1760, "long deep gorge worn by a stream or torrent of water," from French ravin "a gully" (1680s, from Old French raviner "to pillage; to sweep down, cascade"), and from French ravine "violent rush of water, gully worn by a torrent" (from Old French ravine "violent rush of water, waterfall; avalanche; robbery, rapine"). The French noun and verb both are ultimately from Latin rapina "act of robbery, plundering" (see rapine) with sense influenced by Latin rapidus "rapid."
Ravine appears in an English dictionary 1610s as "a raging flood." Middle English ravin, ravine meant "booty, plunder, robbery" from c. 1350-1500, an earlier borrowing of the French word. Compare raven (v.), ravening.
updated on May 03, 2021