Middle English redi, with adjectival suffix -i (as in busy, crafty, hungry, etc.) + Old English ræde, geræde "prepared, ready, suitably equipped;" of a horse, "ready for riding."
This is reconstructed to be from Proto-Germanic *(ga)raitha- "arranged" (source also of Old Frisian rede "ready," Middle Dutch gereit, Old High German reiti, Middle High German bereite, German bereit, Old Norse greiðr "ready, plain," Gothic garaiþs "ordered, arranged"), which is perhaps from PIE root *reidh- "to ride" (see ride (v.)).
Lengthened in Middle English by change of ending. Sense of "at hand, present, available" is late 12c. Of money, "immediately available," c. 1300, hence slang noun the ready "cash" (1680s). Phrase at the ready "in the position of a soldier's firearm after the command '(make) ready!'" is attested from 1837. As an adverb, c. 1300, "at hand." A ready-reckoner (1757) was a book of tabulated calculations of the sort used in ordinary business and housekeeping.
early 13c., redien, "to administer" (a sense now obsolete); c. 1300, "to take aim;" mid-14c., "to make (something) ready, prepare, put into proper condition or order," from ready (adj.). "Somewhat rare between the 15th and 19th c." [OED]. Related: Readied; readying. Compare Dutch reeden "prepare, dress; German bereiten, Danish berede "prepare, get ready;" also compare redd (v.).
updated on May 09, 2021