The origin of the verb to die is a bit of a mystery. One would expect that such a basic verb would go back to Old English, especially since the word has a Germanic root. But it is not attested to the Old English literature, not appearing until the early Middle English period. Instead, Old English used two other verbs, sweltan (which survives in the modern sweltering) and steorfan (the modern form of which is to starve, although in Old English it could mean death by any means, not just lack of food).
The standard interpretation is that word disappeared early in the Old English period, only to be reintroduced by the Normans. It comes from an Old Norse root deyja. The verb also died out in Gothic and the other West Germanic languages too, surviving only in the North Germanic languages.
Copyright 1997-2014, by David Wilton