Was trawling through my Dutch etymological dictionary in the bog the other night (too much detail - ed; too much RPondian slang - LPondians) and something led me to the word ‘trial’.
There were two lemmas, one of which was pretty obscure (’comical tenor’, named for the eponymous French singer Antoine 1736-95, that’s the last interesting bit of this post), the other a loan version of the English term for ‘ordeal’, ‘test’.
According to Van Dale:
Trial < Eng < ME trien [select] < Fr trier [sort, sift], late Lat *tritare [rub, thresh], iterative of Lat terere (pp tritum) [rub, crush, thresh] (tritum also means ‘refined’). The shift in meaning from ‘thresh’ (ie, ‘separate the chaff from the corn’) to ‘sort’ is not so far.
I was aware of the related Eng. word ‘triage’, also from the French. Not sure if ‘trier’ is still used in mod. Fr. (I don’t remember ever hearing it in speech, and I have studied French and lived in the country) but I never quite made the ‘French connection’ (sorry!) so was interested enough to check out what the Etymonline.com site made of ‘try’, spurred on by the apparent difference in the underlined bits above and below.
c.1300, “examine judiciously, sit in judgment of,” from Anglo-French trier (late 13c.), from Old French trier “to pick out, cull” (12c.), from Gallo-Romance *triare, of unknown origin. The ground sense is “separate out (the good) by examination.” Meaning “to test” is first recorded mid-14c.; that of “attempt to do” is from early 14c. Sense of “to subject to some strain” (of patience, endurance, etc.) is recorded from 1530s. Trying “distressing” is first attested 1718. To try (something) on for size in the figurative sense is recorded from 1956.
Is the Van Dale’s hypothetical Late-Latin verb *tritare also mentioned by the OED? If not, what does it say?
Thanks in advance, one day I will be able to afford the real deal giant OED… :-)