1610s, alteration of livelode "means of keeping alive" (c. 1300), from Old English liflad "course of life," from lif "life" (see life) + lad "way, course" (see load (n.)). Similar formation in Old High German libleita "provisions." Spelling assimilated to words in -hood. Earlier livelihood was a different word, meaning "liveliness," from lively.
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