Word Origin & History
O.E. hlaf "bread, loaf," from P.Gmc. *khlaibuz (cf. O.N. hleifr, Swed. lev, Ger. Laib, Goth. hlaifs), of uncertain origin, perhaps connected to O.E. hlifian "to raise higher, tower," on the notion of the bread rising as it bakes, but it is unclear whether "loaf" or "bread" is the original sense. O.C.S.
chlebu, Finn. leipä, Lith. klepas probably are Gmc. loan words. Meaning "chopped meat shaped like a bread loaf" is attested from 1787.
1835, Amer.Eng., back-formation from loafer (1830), which often is regarded as a variant of land loper (1795), a partial loan-translation of Ger. Landläufer "vagabond," from Land "land" + Läufer "runner," from laufen "to run" (see leap
). But OED finds this "not very probable."