"a line or band in cloth," early 15c., from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German stripe "stripe, streak," from Proto-Germanic *stripan (source also of Danish stribe "a striped fabric," German Streifen "stripe"), cognate with Old Irish sriab "stripe," from PIE root *strig- "to stroke, rub, press" (see strigil). Of soldiers' chevrons, badges, etc., attested from 1827. Stripes for "prison uniform" is by 1887, American English.
"a stroke or lash," early 15c., probably a special use of stripe (n.1), from the marks left by a lash. Compare also Dutch strippen "to whip," West Frisian strips, apparently cognate but not attested as early as the English word.
"ornament with stripes," early 15c., from stripe (n.1). Compare Middle Flemish stripen, Middle Low German and Middle Dutch stripen. Related: Striped; striping.