- verse (n.)
- c.1050, "line or section of a psalm or canticle," later "line of poetry" (late 14c.), from Anglo-French and Old French vers, from Latin versus "verse, line of writing," from PIE root *wer- (3) "to turn, bend" (see versus). The metaphor is of plowing, of "turning" from one line to another (vertere = "to turn") as a plowman does.
Verse was invented as an aid to memory. Later it was preserved to increase pleasure by the spectacle of difficulty overcome. That it should still survive in dramatic art is a vestige of barbarism. [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]
Old English had fers, an early West Germanic borrowing directly from Latin. Meaning "metrical composition" is recorded from c.1300; sense of "part of a modern pop song" (as distinguished from the chorus) is attested from 1927. The English New Testament first was divided fully into verses in the Geneva version (1550s).