The verb is from Middle English ympen, impen, from Old English impian, ġeimpian (“to graft”), from Proto-Germanic *impōną, *impitōną (“to graft”) (> Old High German impfōn, German impfen (“inoculate, vaccinate”)), from Vulgar Latin *imputō (“I graft”) (unrelated to imputō (“I reckon, attribute”)), from Ancient Greek ἔμφυτος (émphutos, “planted”). Cognate with Danish ympe, German Impf, Swedish ymp.
The noun is from Middle English ympe, impe, from Old English impa, impe (“an imp, scion, graft, shoot; young tree”), from the verb.
imp (plural imps)
- A young or inferior devil; a malevolent supernatural creature, similar to a demon but smaller and less powerful. [from 16th c.]
- A mischievous child. [from 17th c.]
- A baby Tasmanian devil.
- (obsolete) A young shoot of a plant, tree etc. [9th–17th c.]
- (obsolete) A scion, offspring; a child. [15th–19th c.]
- (Britain, dialectal, obsolete) Something added to, or united with, another, to lengthen it out or repair it, such as an addition to a beehive; a feather inserted in a broken wing of a bird; or a length of twisted hair in a fishing line.
imp (third-person singular simple present imps, present participle imping, simple past and past participle imped)
- (obsolete) To plant or engraft.
- (archaic) To graft, implant; to set or fix.
- (falconry) To engraft (feathers) into a bird's wing.
- To eke out, strengthen, enlarge.