- beer O.E. beor "strong drink, beer, mead," a word of much-disputed and ambiguous origin, cognate with O.Fris. biar, M.Du., Du. bier, O.H.G. bior, Ger. Bier. Probably a 6c. West Germanic monastic borrowing of V.L. biber "a drink, beverage" (from L. infinitive bibere "to drink;" see IMBIBE (Cf. imbibe)). Another suggestion is that it comes from P.Gmc. *beuwoz-, from *beuwo- "barley." The native Germanic word for the beverage was the one that yielded ALE (Cf. ale) (q.v.).Beer was a common drink among most of the European peoples, as well as in Egypt and Mesopotamia, but was known to the Greeks and Romans only as an exotic product. [Buck]They did have words for it, however. Gk. brytos, used in reference to Thracian or Phrygian brews, was related to O.E. breowan "brew;" L. zythum is from Gk. zythos, first used of Egyptian beer and treated as an Egyptian word but perhaps truly Greek and related to zyme "leaven." French bière is from Germanic. Spanish cerveza is from L. cervesia "beer," perhaps related to L. cremor "thick broth." O.C.S. pivo, source of the general Slavic word for "beer," is originally "a drink" (Cf. O.C.S. piti "drink"). French bière is a 16c. borrowing from German. U.S. slang beer goggles, through which every potential romantic partner looks desirable, is from 1986.
Etymology dictionary. 2014.