Word Origin & History
late O.E. prud, prute, probably from O.Fr. prud, oblique case of adj. prouz "brave, valiant" (11c.), from L.L. prode "advantageous, profitable" (c.200), from L. prodesse "be useful," from pro- "before" + esse "to be." The sense of "have a high opinion of oneself," not in O.Fr., may reflect the Anglo-Saxons'
opinion of the Norman knights who called themselves "proud." O.N. pruðr, probably from the same O.Fr. source, had only the sense "brave, gallant, magnificent, stately" (cf. Icel. pruður, M.Swed. prudh, M.Da. prud). Likewise a group of "pride" words in the Romance languages -- e.g. Fr. orgueil, It. orgoglio, Sp. orgullo -- are borrowings from Gmc., where they had positive senses (cf. O.H.G. urgol "distinguished"). Most I.E. languages use the same word for "proud" in its good and bad senses, but in many the bad sense seems to be the earlier one. The usual way to form the word is with some compound of words for "over" or "high" and words for "heart," "mood," "thought," or "appearance;" e.g. Gk. hyperephanos, lit. "over-appearing;" Goth. hauhþuhts, lit. "high-conscience." O.E. had ofermodig "over-moody" ("mood" in Anglo-Saxon was a much more potent word than presently) and heahheort "high-heart." Words for "proud" in other I.E. languages sometimes reflect a physical sense of being swollen or puffed up; cf. Welsh balch, prob. from a root meaning "to swell," and Modern Gk. kamari, from ancient Gk. kamarou "furnish with a vault or arched cover," with a sense evolution via "make an arch," to "puff out the chest," to "be puffed up" (cf. Eng. slang chesty).