Around the turn of the fourteenth century, the word polle was brought into English. It meant "scalp" and could also be spelled pol, poll, pole, pow, and powe. This quickly died out, but before it did the term was metonymically applied to "people", and then to "counting people" in the seventeenth century. That's the story of how we got our word poll, which has remained relatively constant in usage to this day. But it gets better! Polle also spawned another noun, poleax, because the weapon was supposed to be used for cutting open heads. The word comes from Middle Dutch pole, meaning "top" or "summit", which in turn derives from Proto-Germanic pullaz, "rounded object". Finally, it's reconstructed to a Proto-Indo-European root sounding like bolno and meaning "orb".
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.