c. 1300, "to give an account of," from Anglo-French rehearser, Old French rehercier (12c.) "to go over again, repeat," literally "to rake over, turn over" (soil, ground), from re- "again" (see re-) + hercier "to drag, trail (on the ground), be dragged along the ground; rake, harrow (land); rip, tear, wound; repeat, rehearse;" from herse "a harrow" (see hearse (n.)). Meaning "to say over again, repeat what has already been said or written" is from mid-14c. in English; sense of "practice a play, part, etc." is from 1570s. Related: Rehearsed; rehearsing.
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