late 14c., "thing stolen," from O.Fr. bribe "bit, piece, hunk; morsel of bread given to beggars" (14c.), from briber, brimber "to beg," a general Romanic word (Gamillscheg marks it as Rotwelsch, i.e. "thieves' jargon"), of uncertain origin. Shift of meaning to "gift given to influence corruptly" is first attested 1530s. As a verb, from late 14c. Related: Bribed; bribing.