Word Origin & History
c.1275, from O.N. leggr "leg, bone," from P.Gmc. *lagjaz. Replaced O.E. shank. The meaning "a part or stage of a journey or race" (1920) is from earlier sailing sense of "a run made on a single tack" (1867), which was usually qualified as long leg, short leg, etc. Leg-work (1891) was originally news
reporter's slang for an assignment that produced more walking than text. Slang phrase shake a leg "dance" is attested from 1881. To be on (one's) last legs "at the end of one's life" is from 1599. Legging "extra outer covering to protect the leg" first recorded 1763. Leg-warmer is first attested 1974. Leg up "aid, boost" is from 1837.