Old English wæter, from Proto-Germanic *watr- (source also of Old Saxon watar, Old Frisian wetir, Dutch water, Old High German wazzar, German Wasser, Old Norse vatn, Gothic wato "water"), from PIE *wod-or, suffixed form of root *wed- (1) "water; wet."
To keep (one's) head above water in the figurative sense is recorded from 1742. Water cooler is recorded from 1846; water polo from 1884; water torture from 1928. Linguists believe PIE had two root words for water: *ap- and *wed-. The first (preserved in Sanskrit apah as well as Punjab and julep) was "animate," referring to water as a living force; the latter referred to it as an inanimate substance. The same probably was true of fire (n.).
1883 (there is an isolated instance from 1755; in early use often spelled skee), from Norwegian ski, related to Old Norse skið "long snowshoe," literally "stick of wood, firewood," cognate with Old English scid "stick of wood," obsolete English shide "piece of wood split off from timber;" Old High German skit, German Scheit "log," from Proto-Germanic *skid- "to divide, split," from PIE root *skei- "to cut, split." Ski-jumper is from 1894; ski bum first attested 1960; ski-mask is from 1963; noted as part of criminal disguises from 1968.