“It’s your right to bear arms in bare arms.”
Old English beran “to carry, bring; bring forth, give birth to, produce; to endure without resistance; to support, hold up, sustain; to wear” (class IV strong verb; past tense bær, past participle boren), from Proto-Germanic *beranan (source also of Old Saxon beran, Old Frisian bera “bear, give birth,” Middle Dutch beren “carry a child,” Old High German beran, German gebären, Old Norse bera “carry, bring, bear, endure; give birth,” Gothic bairan “to carry, bear, give birth to”), from PIE root *bher- (1) “carry a burden, bring,” also “give birth” (though only English and German strongly retain this sense, and Russian has beremennaya “pregnant”).
Old English past tense bær became Middle English bare; alternative bore began to appear c. 1400, but bare remained the literary form till after 1600. Past participle distinction of borne for “carried” and born for “given birth” is from late 18c.
Many senses are from notion of “move onward by pressure.” From c. 1300 as “possess as an attribute or characteristic.” Meaning “sustain without sinking” is from 1520s; to bear (something) in mind is from 1530s; meaning “tend, be directed (in a certain way)” is from c. 1600. To bear down “proceed forcefully toward” (especially in nautical use) is from 1716. To bear up is from 1650s as “be firm, have fortitude.”
“large carnivorous or omnivorous mammal of the family Ursidae,” Old English bera “a bear,” from Proto-Germanic *bero, literally “the brown (one)” (source also of Old Norse björn, Middle Dutch bere, Dutch beer, Old High German bero, German Bär), usually said to be from PIE root *bher- (2) “bright; brown.” There was perhaps a PIE *bheros “dark animal” (compare beaver (n.1) and Greek phrynos “toad,” literally “the brown animal”).
Old English bær “naked, uncovered, unclothed,” from Proto-Germanic *bazaz (source also of German bar, Old Norse berr, Dutch baar), from PIE *bhoso- “naked” (source also of Armenian bok “naked;” Old Church Slavonic bosu, Lithuanian basas “barefoot”). Meaning “sheer, absolute” (c. 1200) is from the notion of “complete in itself.”
“make bare, uncover,” Old English barian, from bare (adj.). Related: Bared; baring.
“upper limb of the human body,” Old English earm, from Proto-Germanic *armaz (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Middle Dutch, German arm, Old Norse armr, Old Frisian erm), from PIE root *ar- “to fit together” (source also of Sanskrit irmah “arm,” Greek arthron “a joint,” Latin armus “shoulder”). Arm of the sea was in Old English. Arm-twister “powerful persuader” is from 1915. Arm-wrestling is from 1899.
They wenten arme in arme yfere Into the gardyn [Chaucer]
“weapon,” c. 1300, armes (plural) “weapons of a warrior,” from Old French armes (plural), “arms, weapons; war, warfare” (11c.), from Latin arma “weapons” (including armor), literally “tools, implements (of war),” from PIE *ar(ə)mo-, suffixed form of root *ar- “to fit together.” The notion seems to be “that which is fitted together.”
Meaning “branch of military service” is from 1798, hence “branch of any organization” (by 1952). Meaning “heraldic insignia” (in coat of arms, etc.) is early 14c., from Old French; originally they were borne on shields of fully armed knights or barons. To be up in arms figuratively is from 1704; to bear arms “do military service” is by 1640s.
“to furnish with weapons,” c. 1200, from Old French armer “provide weapons to; take up arms,” or directly from Latin armare “furnish with arms,” from arma “weapons,” literally “tools, implements” of war (see arm (n.2)). Intransitive sense “provide oneself with weapons” in English is from c. 1400. Related: Armed; arming.