late 14c., of grammatical gender, "neither masculine nor feminine," from L. neuter,
lit. "neither one nor the other," from ne-
"not, no" (see un
-) + uter
"either (of two);" probably a loan-translation of Gk. oudeteros
"neither, neuter." In 16c., it had the sense of "taking neither side, neutral." The verb is 1903, from the adj., originally in ref. to pet cats.