Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
"stout pole," c.1300, "rafter," from Middle Low German or Middle Dutch sparre, from Proto-Germanic *sparron (cf. Old English *spere "spear, lance," Old Norse sperra "rafter, beam"), from PIE root *sper- "spear, pole" (see spear (n.1)). Nautical use dates from 1640. Also borrowed in Old French as esparre, which may have been the direct source of the English word.
"shiny mineral that splits easily," 1580s, from Low German Spar, from Middle Low German *spar, sper, cognate with Old English spær- in spærstan "gypsum."
"to box," c.1400, "to strike or thrust," perhaps from Middle French esparer "to kick," from Italian sparare "to fling," from Latin ex- (see ex-) + parare "make ready, prepare," hence "ward off, parry" (see pare). Used in 17c. in reference to preliminary actions in a cock fight; figurative sense of "to dispute, bandy with words" is from 1690s. Extension to humans, with meaning "to engage in or practice boxing" is attested from 1755. Related: Sparred; sparring.