1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Sewer

SEWER, a large drain for carrying away by water excreta and other refuse, known therefore collectively as “sewage” (see Sewerage below); also, in a wider and older sense, the term for conduits such as are used for the draining of the fens, or of the water-courses, sea-defences, &c., over which the local authorities, known as commissioners of sewers, exercise jurisdiction. In English law a “sewer,” as distinguished from a “drain,” is that which carries away the sewage of more houses or other buildings than one. Many fanciful derivations of the word have been given, but there seems no doubt that the word is from O. Fr. seuwiere, Med. Lat. seweria, the sluice of a mill-pond, from the Late Lat. ex-aquaria, a means of conducting water out of anything; this is paralleled by Eng. “ewer,” a water-jug, which undoubtedly comes from aquaria, through O. Fr. ewe, for water, mod. eau.

The old name “sewer,” for a table attendant who placed and removed the dishes from the table, acted as waiter, &c., must be distinguished. In the household ordinances of Edward II. the word seems to appear in the form asseour, and in those of Edward IV. as assewer, an officer of the household who superintended the serving of a banquet. Asseour represents O. Fr. asseoir, to seat, set, Lat. assidere. The word was early connected with “ sewe " or “sew " A juice, broth, pottage, cognate with sucus, juice.