Search: broker etymology
Why: Last night, Jessica Fletcher's niece was a real estate broker. The night before, her stockbroker was murdered! As far as I can tell (not very far), a broker is just a go-between or a middle man. In this economy, he's probably even broker than I am. Hey-o!
Answer: It has nothing to do with "break" or the past tense "broke"! Instead, it all started with the pointy tool Frenchmen of yore used to tap their wine kegs. Its history went like this:
- broche - Old French: "pointed tool"
- brochier - "to broach, tap, pierce (a keg)"
- abrokur - Anglo-French: "tapster, retailer of wine"
- "wine dealer"
- brocour - Anglo-Norman "small trader"
- "retailer, middleman, agent"
The More You Know: "Go for broke" comes from a Hawaiian pidgen phrase for "shoot the works," used by gamblers risking all their money on a single roll of dice. During WWII, the 442th Infantry, a unit composed of mostly second-generation Japanese-Americans, used the phrase in their fight song (1:15):
The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is the most highly decorated unit in American military history for its size and length of service, with 7 major campaigns in Europe, 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Silver Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, and 9,486 Purple Hearts. You can watch this 1951 movie about them online here.