Old English ryge, from Proto-Germanic *ruig (cf. Old Saxon roggo, Old Norse rugr, Old Frisian rogga, Middle Dutch rogghe, Old High German rocko, German Roggen), related to or from Balto-Slavic words (cf. Old Church Slavonic ruži, Russian rozh' "rye;" Lithuanian rugys "grain of rye," plural rugiai), from a European PIE root *wrughyo- "rye." Meaning "whiskey" (made from rye) first attested 1835. Rye bread attested from mid-15c.