abbreviation of Latin id est, literally "that is;" used in English in the sense of "that is to say." Latin id "it" is from PIE pronominal stem *i- (see yon). For est, see is.
i.e. means that is to say, & introduces another way (more comprehensible to the hearer, driving home the speaker's point better, or otherwise preferable) of putting what has been already said; it does not introduce an example, & when substituted for e.g. in that function ... is a blunder. [Fowler]