From Middle English race, from Old Norse rás, from Proto-Germanic *rēsō, from Proto-Indo-European *reh₁s-. Akin to Old English rǣs, Middle Low German râs, Dutch ras. Compare Danish ræs, Norwegian and Swedish ras, Norwegian rås.
1560s, via Middle French race from Italian razza (early 14th century), of uncertain origin.
Diez and some other scholars suggest derivation from Proto-Germanic *raitō (whence Old High German reiza and Old Norse ríta), perhaps via Langobardic *raiza, which Körting notes is a literal rendering of Latin linea sanguinis. Anatoly Liberman says "the semantic fit is good" but the chronology falters; he says the Germanic word went out of use before the Italian word arose, and he says the intermediary is not attested.
Some scholars suggest derivation from Old Spanish raza, rasa, from earlier ras, res, from Arabic رَأْس, but Italian razza predates the Spanish word according to Diez and Meyer-Lübke.
Meyer-Lübke suggested Latin generatio as the root; Körting says "the disappearance of two initial syllables hardly seems credible", but Meyer-Lübke notes the Venetian form narazza and the Old Bellunesian form naraccia, positing that after the first syllable ge- was lost, the remaining (una) narazza came to be reanalysed as una razza.
Gianfranco Contini suggests the Italian word comes from Old French haraz, whence Modern French haras, from Old Norse hárr. Liberman considers this derivation the most likely.
Other suggested Latin etyma:
** radius (perhaps via Vulgar Latin *radia) (per Baist).
** radix (per Ulrich); Liberman says "the semantic match is excellent", and race (which definitely derives from radix) shows that the phonology is plausible.
** *raptiare (per Körting).
** The nominative of ratio (perhaps via an unattested intermediate form *razzo), as opposed to ragione which derives from the accusative rationem.
Other implausible suggestions include Slavic raz and Basque arraca, supposedly meaning "stud animal" (Basque arrazza, "race", derives from Spanish).
From Middle French, from Latin radix.
Modern English dictionary
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