Word Origin & History
O.E. land, lond, "ground, soil," also "definite portion of the earth's surface, home region of a person or a people, territory marked by political boundaries," from P.Gmc. *landom (cf. O.N., O.Fris. Du., Ger., Goth. land), from PIE *lendh- "land, heath" (cf. O.Ir. land, Middle Welsh llan "an open space,"
Welsh llan "enclosure, church," Breton lann "heath," source of Fr. lande; O.C.S. ledina "waste land, heath," Czech lada "fallow land"). Etymological evidence and Goth. use indicates the original sense was "a definite portion of the earth's surface owned by an individual or home of a nation." Meaning early extended to "solid surface of the earth," which had been the sense of the root of Mod.Eng. earth
. Original sense of land in English is now mostly found under country
. To take the lay of the land is a nautical expression. In the Amer.Eng. exclamation land's sakes (1846) land is a euphemism for Lord
c.1600, place for boats; of stairs, first attested 1789; from land
"to bring to land," c.1300, from land
(n.). Originally of ships; of fish, in the angling sense, from 1610s; hence figurative sense of "to obtain" (a job, etc.), first recorded 1854. Of aircraft, attested from 1916.
"to make contact, to hit home" (of a punch, etc.), altered from lend
in a playful sense.