The word donation was first used in a 1425 history of Scotland, when it was spelled donatyowne. It was borrowed from Old French donacioun, which was taken in the thirteenth century from Latin donatio, meaning "present". That, through the verb donare ("to give as a gift"), comes from donum, meaning "gift". Eventually, by way of Proto-Italic donom, that's thought to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root deh, "to give". Donum also gave us several other recognizable descendants, each with their own cool story. It eventually evolved into the Old French word doneur ("one who gives"), which became Anglo-French donour and English donor, and it was also combined with the prefix per- ("thoroughly") to yield Old French pardoner, which meant "to give" and turned into our English word pardon. The same thing happened with the prefix con- ("with") and the word condone. Fascinating stuff!
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.