1540s, "body of soldiers," 1540s, from Middle French troupe, from Old French trope "band of people, company, troop, crowd" (13c.), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Frankish *throp "assembly, gathering of people" or another Germanic source, perhaps related to Old English ðorp, Old Norse thorp "village" (see thorp). OED derives the French word from Latin troppus "flock," which is of unknown origin but also might be from the proposed Germanic source. Of groups of animals from 1580s. Specifically as "a subdivision of a cavalry force" from 1580s; of Boy Scouts from 1908. Troops "armed forces" is from 1590s.