The word beleaguer was first introduced to the English language sometime in the 1580s, when it meant "t0 surround with troops" (basically besiege). Eventually, that type of problem became more metaphorical, giving us the modern definition of "cause repeated problems for". The be- part of beleaguer is an archaic suffix meaning "around" (also present in words like beset and belay) and the leaguer part comes from the Dutch or German verb legeren, meaning "to camp". Literally, that meant "to camp around", which makes sense, given the historical meaning. Legeren is a relative of the word lair and comes from Dutch leger, meaning "bed". Finally, leger comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction legh, which meant "lie" and is also the source of classic words such as lager, ledger, fellow, and law. I've explained be before, but it comes from PIE hepi, meaning "at" or "near".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a junior 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.