Gehalt m. 'content, share', late Middle High German. gehalt 'custody, prison, inner value' is verbal abstract of Middle High German gehalten 'to keep still, to hold, to preserve, to imprison' (by prefix strengthened halten, from Old High German gihalto 'keeper, guardian', 9th cent.). Correspondingly, still today South German Gehalt stands for 'container' (e.g. 'room, cupboard'). Today's meaning 'constituent, content' develops in the 15th c. It first applies to the silver or gold content of coins, in the 17th c. to the content of chemical substances in a mixture; in the 18th c. the figurative use common today is encountered (cf. inner content, the true content of words, content and form). To keep in the sense of 'maintain' belongs Gehalt n. 'salary, income' (18th c., initially also m.), actually 'maintenance without consideration', cf. gracious, widow's salary (18th c.).