c.1300, chacen "to hunt; to cause to go away; put to flight," from Old French chacier "to hunt, ride swiftly, strive for" (12c., Modern French chasser), from Vulgar Latin *captiare (source of Italian cacciare, Catalan casar, Spanish cazar, Portuguese caçar "to chase, hunt;" see catch (v.)).
Meaning "run after" developed mid-14c. Related: Chased; chasing. Older European words for "pursue" often also cover "persecute" (e.g. Greek dioko, Old English ehtan); modern ones often derive from words used primarily for the hunting of animals.