|Wall Street in 1850|
Is any of this accurate, and does the word mean more in addition to this?
I'm going to guess that the word comes to us from French, but beyond that, I really have no idea about its roots.
Well, I'm at least on track with my sense of finance in modern day parlance. I didn't quite get to the idea that finance is also an area of study--according to Wikipedia, that of how investors allocate assets over time under conditions of both certainty and uncertainty. The article goes on to say that a key aspect of this is the "time value of money", which states that a unit of currency is worth more today than it will be tomorrow. Hmm. I sense myself traipsing along the edge of deeper research than I am ready or willing to get into here, so let's move on to the etymological aspects.
Fine. Or rather, fin. This is the not so mysterious root that was almost too obvious to think of. It's the old French word for limit or end, going back to the Latin finis. Interestingly, our word "fine", as in, say, fine linen, also comes from this word, but in that case it means another kind of limit--the acme, the peak. The Middle French finance meant the limiting or settling of a debt. As the Online Etymology dictionary has it, "the notion is of ending (by satisfying) something that is due". And there is a relation here between paying 'fines' and an expression of the 1300s,'to make fine'--that is to settle a matter, to make one's peace. The verb "fine", by the way, originally meant to pay a ransom or a debt, but the inverted meaning of to mean to punish by a fine came later.
"Finance", meaning settlement of debt, is from around 1400, but there were other echoes of the word that migrated from France later. It took on the above mentioned meaning of ransom in English in the mid fifteenth century. Then it grew to include taxation later in the century. It didn't come to mean the management of money in England till 1770, and the idea of 'to furnish with money' didn't come along till the late 1800s.
But when it comes to furnishing others with money, isn't that always the way?