One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
with object Originally in West Africa: to seize as a guarantee or security; to seize as plunder, to steal; specifically to kidnap as a slave.
Late 17th century. From Portuguese penhorar to distrain, seize as a pledge or security from classical Latin pignorāre, pignerāre to give as a pledge, pledge, pawn, in post-classical Latin also to take in pledge, to plunder, invade an enemy's lands.
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