World English Dictionary
1.  forming the possessive singular of nouns and some pronouns: man's; one's
2.  forming the possessive plural of nouns whose plurals do not end in -s: children's
3.  forming the plural of numbers, letters, or symbols: 20's; p's and q's
4.  informal contraction of is or has: he's here; John's coming; it's gone
5.  informal contraction of us with let: let's
6.  informal contraction of does in some questions: where's he live?; what's he do?
[senses 1, 2: assimilated contraction from Middle English -es, from Old English, masculine and neuter genitive singular; sense 3, equivalent to -s1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

suffix forming the possessive case of most Mod.Eng. nouns, was gradually extended in M.E. from O.E. -es, the most common genitive inflection of masc. and neut. nouns (cf. dæg "day," gen. dæges "day's"). But O.E. also had genitives in -e, -re, -an as well as "mutation-genitives" (cf. boc "book,"
plural bec), and the -es form was never used in plural (where -a, -ra, -na prevailed), thus avoiding the ambiguity of words like kings'. As a suffix forming some adverbs, it represents the gen. sing. ending of O.E. masc. and neuter nouns and some adjectives.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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