Word Origin & History
1635, "to strengthen, reinforce," from obsolete Fr. recruter (17c.), from recrute, Picardy dialect variant of recrue "levy," lit. "new growth," from O.Fr. recreu, pp. of recreistre "grow or increase again," from re- "again" + creistre "to grow," from L. crescere "to grow" (see
). "The French word first appeared in literary use in gazettes published in Holland, and was disapproved of by French writers in the latter part of the 17th c." [OED]. Sense of "to enlist new soldiers" is attested from 1655; of student athletes, from 1913. Noun meaning "body of military reinforcements" is attested from 1645 (replacing earlier recrew, recrue).