Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
Old English wald (Anglian), weald (West Saxon, Kentish) "forest, wooded upland," from Proto-Germanic *walthuz (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian wald, Middle Dutch wold, Dutch woud, Old High German wald, German Wald "forest," Swedish vall "pasture," Old Norse völlr "soil, field, meadow"); perhaps connected to wild. The sense development from "forested upland" to "rolling open country" (c.1200) perhaps is from Scandinavian influence, or a testimony to the historical deforestation of Britain. Not current since mid-16c.; survives mainly in place names (cf. Cotswold).
Old English *willan, wyllan "to wish, desire, want" (past tense wolde), from Proto-Germanic *welljan (cf. Old Saxon willian, Old Norse vilja, Old Frisian willa, Dutch willen, Old High German wellan, German wollen, Gothic wiljan "to will, wish, desire," Gothic waljan "to choose"). The Germanic words are from PIE *wel-/*wol- "be pleasing" (cf. Sanskrit vrnoti "chooses, prefers," varyah "to be chosen, eligible, excellent," varanam "choosing;" Avestan verenav- "to wish, will, choose;" Greek elpis "hope;" Latin volo, velle "to wish, will, desire;" Old Church Slavonic voljo, voliti "to will," veljo, veleti "to command;" Lithuanian velyti "to wish, favor," pa-vel-mi "I will," viliuos "I hope;" Welsh gwell "better").
Cf. also Old English wel "well," literally "according to one's wish;" wela "well-being, riches." The use as a future auxiliary was already developing in Old English. The implication of intention or volition distinguishes it from shall, which expresses or implies obligation or necessity. Contracted forms, especially after pronouns, began to appear 16c., as in sheele for "she will." The form with an apostrophe is from 17c.
Old English will, willa, from Proto-Germanic *weljon (cf. Old Saxon willio, Old Norse vili, Old Frisian willa, Dutch wil, Old High German willio, German wille, Gothic wilja "will"), related to *willan "to wish" (see will (v.)). The meaning "written document expressing a person's wishes about disposition of property after death" is first recorded late 14c.