- wind (n.1)
- "air in motion," Old English wind "wind," from Proto-Germanic *windaz (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Middle Dutch, Dutch wind, Old Norse vindr, Old High German wind, German Wind, Gothic winds), from PIE *we-nt-o- "blowing," from root *we- "to blow" (source also of Sanskrit va-, Greek aemi-, Gothic waian, Old English wawan, Old High German wajan, German wehen, Old Church Slavonic vejati "to blow;" Sanskrit vatah, Avestan vata-, Hittite huwantis, Latin ventus, Old Church Slavonic vetru, Lithuanian vejas "wind;" Lithuanian vetra "tempest, storm;" Old Irish feth "air;" Welsh gwynt, Breton gwent "wind").
Normal pronunciation evolution made this word rhyme with kind and rind (Donne rhymes it with mind), but it shifted to a short vowel 18c., probably from influence of windy, where the short vowel is natural. A sad loss for poets, who now must rhyme it only with sinned and a handful of weak words. Symbolic of emptiness and vanity since late 13c.
I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind. [Ernest Dowson, 1896]
Meaning "breath" is attested from late Old English; especially "breath in speaking" (early 14c.), so long-winded, also "easy or regular breathing" (early 14c.), hence second wind in the figurative sense (by 1830), an image from the sport of hunting.
Winds "wind instruments of an orchestra" is from 1876. Figurative phrase which way the wind blows for "the current state of affairs" is suggested from c. 1400. To get wind of "receive information about" is by 1809, perhaps inspired by French avoir le vent de. To take the wind out of (one's) sails in the figurative sense (by 1883) is an image from sailing, where a ship without wind can make no progress. Wind-chill index is recorded from 1939. Wind energy from 1976. Wind vane from 1725.
- wind (v.1)
- "move by turning and twisting," Old English windan "to turn, twist, plait, curl, brandish, swing" (class III strong verb; past tense wand, past participle wunden), from Proto-Germanic *windan "to wind" (source also of Old Saxon windan, Old Norse vinda, Old Frisian winda, Dutch winden, Old High German wintan, German winden, Gothic windan "to wind"), from PIE *wendh- "to turn, wind, weave" (source also of Latin viere "twist, plait, weave," vincire "bind;" Lithuanian vyti "twist, wind").
Related to wend, which is its causative form, and to wander. The past tense and past participle merged in Middle English. Meaning "to twine, entwine oneself around" is from 1590s; transitive sense of "turn or twist round and round (on something) is from c. 1300. Meaning "set a watch, clockwork, etc. in operating mode by tightening its spring" is from c. 1600. Wind down "come to a conclusion" is recorded from 1952; wind up "come to a conclusion" is from 1825; earlier in transitive sense "put (affairs) in order in advance of a final settlement" (1780). Winding sheet "shroud of a corpse" is attested from early 15c.
- wind (v.2)
- "to perceive by scent, get wind of," c. 1400, from wind (n.1). Of horns, etc., "make sound by blowing through," from 1580s. Meaning "tire, put out of breath; render temporarily breathless" is from 1802, originally in pugilism, in reference to the effect of a punch in the stomach. Related: Winded; winding.
- wind (n.2)
- "an act of winding round," 1825, from wind (v.1) . Earlier, "an apparatus for winding," late 14c., in which use perhaps from a North Sea Germanic word, such as Middle Dutch, Middle Low German winde "windlass."