mid-14c., piete (late 12c. as a surname), "mercy, tenderness, pity" (senses now obsolete in this word but preserved in its doublet, pity), from Old French piete "piety, faith; pity, compassion" (12c.), from Latin pietatem (nominative pietas) "dutiful conduct, sense of duty; religiousness, piety; loyalty, patriotism; faithfulness to natural ties," in Late Latin "gentleness, kindness, pity;" from pius "kind" (see pious).
From 1570s in English as "filial affection, dutiful conduct or behavior toward one's parents, relatives, country, etc." Meaning "piousness, faith in and reverence for the Supreme Being" is attested in English from c. 1600. Compare pity (n.).