Word Origin & History
"banker, money-changer, pawnbroker," late 14c., from O.Fr. (which also gave the word in this sense to M.Du. and Low Ger.), from It. Lombardo (M.L. Lombardus), from L.L. Langobardus, proper name of a Gmc. people who conquered Italy 6c. and settled in the northern region that became known as Lombardy,
from P.Gmc. Langgobardoz, often said to mean lit. "Long-beards," but perhaps rather from *lang- "tall, long" + the proper name of the people (L. Bardi). Their name in O.E. was Langbeardas (pl.), but also Heaðobeardan, from heaðo "war." Lombards in Middle Ages were notable throughout Western Europe as bankers and money-lenders, also pawn-brokers; London's Lombard Street (c.12600) originally was occupied by Lombard bankers. Lombardy poplar, originally from Italy but planted in N.Amer. colonies as an ornamental tree, is attested from 1766.