O.E. hrung "rod, bar," from P.Gmc. *khrungo (cf. M.L.G. runge, O.H.G. runga "stake, stud, stave," M.Du. ronghe, Du. rong "rung," Goth. hrugga "staff"), of unknown origin with no connections outside Gmc. Sense in Eng. narrowed to "round or stave of a ladder" (first attested late 13c.), but usage of cognate words remains more general in other Gmc. languages.