From Middle English kednei, kidenei, from earlier kidnere, kidenere, of obscure origin and formation. Probably a compound consisting of Middle English *kid, *quid, from Old English cwiþ, cwiþa + Middle English nere, from Old English *nēora, from Proto-Germanic *neurô, from Proto-Indo-European *negʷʰrós. If so, then related to Scots nere, neir, Saterland Frisian Njuure ("kidney"), Dutch nier ("kidney"), German Niere ("kidney"), Danish nyre ("kidney"), Norwegian nyre ("kidney"), Swedish njure ("kidney"), Ancient Greek νεφρός.
Alternate etymology traces the first element to Old English cēod, codd, from Proto-Germanic *keudō as the terms for testicle and kidney were often interchangeable in Germanic (compare Old High German nioro, Old Swedish vigniauri. More at codpiece.
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