"grant temporary possession of," late 14c., from past tense of Old English lænan "to grant temporarily, lease out, make loans, lend money at interest," from Proto-Germanic *laihwnjan, verb derived from *loikw-nes-, the prehistoric source of Old English læn "gift" (see loan (n.)). Compare Dutch lenen, Old High German lehanon, German lehnen, all verbs derived from nouns. In Middle English the past tense form, with terminal -d, became the principal form on analogy of bend, send, etc. To lend an ear "listen" is from late 14c.
updated on June 11, 2016