Word Origin & History
O.E. sceafan "to scrape, shave, polish," from P.Gmc. *skabanan (cf. O.N. skafa, M.Du. scaven, Ger. schaben, Goth. skaban), from PIE *skabh-, collateral form of base *(s)kep- "to cut, to scrape, to hack" (cf. Gk. skaptein "to dig," L. scabere "to scratch, scrape;" see
). Original strong verb status is preserved in past tense form shaven. Specifically in reference to cutting the hair close from mid-13c. Figurative sense of "to strip (someone) of money or possessions" is attested from late 14c.
1604, "something shaved off;" from shave
(v.); O.E. sceafa meant "tool for shaving." Meaning "a grazing touch" is recorded from 1834. Shaver "one who shaves" is recorded from c.1425; sense of "fellow, chap" is slang from 1592; phrase a close shave is from 1856, on notion of
"a slight, grazing touch."