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.