The word property got spelled out a ton of times in the days of Middle English, so it makes sense that there were a lot of alterations to the word. At various times, one could find propertee, properte, propirte, and proprete, and in Old French it was propriete. Back then, it had a secondary definition of "individual quality", as well, because a property could be metaphorical too. That's not really important in tracing the etymology, though: just a curious detour. The Old French word comes from Latin proprietas, which meant either "a possession" or "a quality", and that's from the earlier adjective proprius, which meant "one's own" or "special". All of it, through Proto-Italic prijos, eventually derives from the Proto-Indo-European reconstruction preiwo, or "individual". Usage of the word property in literature over time since the turn of the nineteenth century.
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.