c.1300, murdre, from Old English morðor (plural morþras) "secret killing of a person, unlawful killing," also "mortal sin, crime; punishment, torment, misery," from Proto-Germanic *murthra- (cf. Goth maurþr, and, from a variant form of the same root, Old Saxon morth, Old Frisian morth, Old Norse morð, Middle Dutch moort, Dutch moord, German Mord "murder"), from PIE *mrtro-, from root *mer- "to die" (see mortal (adj.)). The spelling with -d- probably reflects influence of Anglo-French murdre, from Old French mordre, from Medieval Latin murdrum, from the Germanic root.
Viking custom, typical of Germanic, distinguished morð (Old Norse) "secret slaughter," from vig (Old Norse) "slaying." The former involved concealment, or slaying a man by night or when asleep, and was a heinous crime. The latter was not a disgrace, if the killer acknowledged his deed, but he was subject to vengeance or demand for compensation.
Mordre wol out that se we day by day. [Chaucer, "Nun's Priest's Tale," c.1386]Weakened sense of "very unpleasant situation" is from 1878.
Old English myrðrian, from Proto-Germanic *murthjan (cf. Old High German murdran, German mördren, Gothic maurþjan; see murder (n.)). Related: Murdered; murdering.
Wilful murder was distinguished from accidental homicide, and was invariably visited with capital punishment (Num. 35:16, 18, 21, 31; Lev. 24:17). This law in its principle is founded on the fact of man's having been made in the likeness of God (Gen. 9:5, 6; John 8:44; 1 John 3:12, 15). The Mosiac law prohibited any compensation for murder or the reprieve of the murderer (Ex. 21:12, 14; Deut. 19:11, 13; 2 Sam. 17:25; 20:10). Two witnesses were required in any capital case (Num. 35:19-30; Deut. 17:6-12). If the murderer could not be discovered, the city nearest the scene of the murder was required to make expiation for the crime committed (Deut. 21:1-9). These offences also were to be punished with death, (1) striking a parent; (2) cursing a parent; (3) kidnapping (Ex. 21:15-17; Deut. 27:16).