early 13c., from O.Fr., noun use of servant "serving, waiting," prp. of servir "to attend, wait upon" (see serve). Meaning "professed lover, one devoted to the service of a lady" is from mid-14c. In N.American colonies and U.S., the usual designation for "slave" 17c.-18c.
(in 14c.-15c. and later in Biblical translations the word often was used to render L. servus, Gk. doulos "slave"). Public servant is attested from 1670s.