- taste (v.)
- late 13c., "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c.1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (n.1) in this sense). For another PIE root in this sense, see gusto.
The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Buck]
Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.
- taste (n.)
- c.1300, "act of tasting," from Old French tast (Modern French tât), from taster (see taste (v.)). Meaning "faculty or sense by which flavor of a thing is discerned" is attested from late 14c. Meaning "savor, sapidity, flavor" is from late 14c. Sense of "aesthetic judgment" is first attested 1670s (cf. French goût, German geschmack, Russian vkus, etc.).
Of all the five senses, 'taste' is the one most closely associated with fine discrimination, hence the familiar secondary uses of words for 'taste, good taste' with reference to aesthetic appreciation. [Buck]