"forepart of a ship," 1550s, from French proue, from Italian (Genoese) prua, from Vulgar Latin *proda, by dissimilation from Latin prora "prow," from Greek prōira "bow of a ship," which is related to pro "before, forward," proi "early in the morning" (from PIE root *per- (1) "forward," hence "in front of, before, first").
Middle English and early Modern English (and Sir Walter Scott) had prore in same sense, from Latin. Modern Italian has proda only in sense "shore, bank." Prow and poop meant "the whole ship," hence 16c.-17c. figurative use of the expression for "the whole" (of anything).