Word Origin & History
fusion of O.E. winnan "struggle for, work at, strive, fight," and gewinnan "to gain or succeed by struggling, to win," both from P.Gmc. *wenwanan (cf. O.S. winnan, O.N. vinna, O.Fris. winna, Du. winnen "to gain, win," Dan. vinde "to win," O.H.G. winnan "to strive, struggle, fight," Ger. gewinnen "to
gain, win," Goth. gawinnen "to suffer, toil"). Perhaps related to wish
, or from PIE *van- "overcome, conquer." Sense of "to be victorious" is recorded from c.1300. The noun in O.E. meant "labor, strife, conflict;" modern sense of "a victory in a game or contest" is first attested 1862, from the verb. Breadwinner (see bread
) preserves the sense of "toil" in O.E. winnan. Phrase you can't win them all (1954) first attested in Raymond Chandler.