PEEL, (i) The skin or rind of a fruit; thus " to peel " is to remove the outer covering of anything. The etymology of the word is closely connected with that of " pill," to plunder, surviving in " pillage." Both words are to be referred to French and thence to Latin. In French peler and piller, though now distinguished in meaning (the first used of stripping bark or rind, the second meaning to rob), were somewhat confused in application, and a similar confusion occurs in English till comparatively late. The Latin words from which they are derived are pellis, skin, and pilare, to strip of hair (pilus). (2) The name of a class of small fortified dwelling-houses built during the 16th century on the borders between Scotland and England. They are also known as " bastel-houses," i.e. " bastille-houses," and consist of a square massive tower with high pitched roof, the lower part being vaulted, the upper part containing a few living rooms. The entrance is on the upper floor, access being gained by a movable ladder. The vaulted ground-floor chamber served for the cattle when there was danger of attack. The word appears in various forms, e.g. pele, peil, and Latinized as pelum, etc. ; " pile " is also found used synonymously, but the New English Dictionary (s.ii. pile) considers the two words distinct. It seems more probable that the word is to be identified with " pale," a stake (Lat. palus). The earlier meaning of " peel " is a palisaded enclosure used as an additional defence for a fortified post or as an independent stronghold.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)