The word relegate (meaning "exile" or "demote") was borrowed in the fifteenth century from Latin relegatus, which is the past participle of the verb relegare, which had the same definition. More literally, it translates to "send again", as it was composed of the prefix re- ("again", from Proto-Indo-European wre) and the root legare, which could mean "send", "choose", or "gather", often particularly for use in diplomatic contexts. This is also the source of the words delegate, legation, colleague, and legacy. Finally, legare comes from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction leg, meaning "gather" (the etymon of legal, apology, elect, lesson, logic, and many, many more words). According to Google NGrams, literary usage of relegate peaked in the 1890s and has been fairly constant since.
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.