early 14c., "something which allures or entices, an attraction" (a figurative use), also "bait for recalling hawks," from Anglo-French lure, Old French loirre "device used to recall hawks, lure," from Frankish *loþr or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *lothran "to call" (cf. Middle High German luoder, Middle Low German loder "lure, bait," German Luder "lure, deceit, bait;" also Old English laþian "to call, invite," German laden).
Originally a bunch of feathers on a long cord, from which the hawk is fed during its training. Used of means of alluring other animals (especially fish) from c.1700. Technically, bait is something the animal can eat; lure is a more general term. Also in 15c. a collective word for a group of young women.