Hi! Nice to hear from you.
Isn't it pretty much the same as "mate"? Which can be very personal and sexual, or can be the colleague who hands you the tools, as in a plumber's mate, and has now faded to a general term for a friend, like "pal" or "buddy"?
There's a poem somewhere, about an unsuccessful holiday in the Scottish Borders, where the poet's wife wants to visit Yarrow (in a remote part of the Borders, near Hawick) and he just knows it'll be disappointing and gets out of it, saying "Enough that in our hearts we know There's such a place as Yarrow". And his first rhyme for Yarrow is "my winsome marrow", ie my pretty wife ...
Bone marrow is still "merg" in Afrikaans, and therefore probably in Dutch; but the only metaphorical meaning is your "most salient part", the central point of an issue. My dictionary, and since I'm at work I haven't got a good etymological one to hand, gives Old English 'maerg' (ae should be ash), Old Frisian 'merg' and Old Norse 'mergr'. Which places it firmly in North-Eastern Europe. Collins has a separate entry for marrow = friend, partner: the one I mentioned above. Fifteenth century English, 'marwe', = companion, workmate. Perhaps of Scandinavian origin; cf Icelandic 'margr' = friendly.
The issue there is whether an e in Old Norse can become an a in, presumably, modern Icelandic. And I simply don't know!
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