Word Origin & History
O.E. timber "building, structure," later "building material, trees suitable for building," and "wood in general," from P.Gmc. *temran (cf. O.Fris. timber "wood, building," O.H.G. zimbar "timber, wooden dwelling, room," O.N. timbr "timber," Ger. Zimmer "room"), from PIE *demrom-, from base *dem-/*dom-
"build" (source of Gk. domos, L. domus; see domestic
). The O.E. verb timbran, timbrian was the chief word for "to build" (cf. Du. timmeren, Ger. zimmern). As a call of warning when a cut tree is about to fall, it is attested from 1912 in Canadian Eng. Timbers in the nautical slang sense (see shiver
(n.)) is from the specialized meaning "pieces of wood composing the frames of a ship's hull" (1748).