The word rescue was first used in English in an early fourteenth century legend about a knight who had to do a bunch of noble deeds to win the hand of his love interest. Back then, it was spelled a variety of ways, including resceve, reschewe, reschow, reskeve, reschue, reskaw, and much more. That all derives from the Old French verb rescorre, which meant "protect" and further comes from the Latin prefix re-, meaning "again" (from Proto-Indo-European wert, "to turn") and the root excutere, meaning "shake off" or "drive away"; presumably a big part of rescuing was thought to be driving away bad things multiple times. Excutere is composed of another prefix, ex- (from Proto-Indo-European eghs, "out"), and the verb quatere, "to shake". Finally, quatere, also the source of quash, comes from a Proto-Indo-European word sounding like kes and meaning "cut".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.