"involving many parts or relations; consisting of more than one complete individual," 1640s, from French multiple (14c.), from Late Latin multiplus "manifold," from Latin multi- "many, much" (see multi-) + -plus "-fold" (see -plus).
The noun is from 1680s in arithmetic, "a number produced by multiplying another by a whole number," from the adjective. Multiple choice in reference to a question in which the subject selects an answer from several options is attested by 1915. Multiple exposure "repeated exposure of the same frame of film" is recorded by 1891. In psychology, multiple personality is attested by 1886. The chronic, progressive disease multiple sclerosis is so called by 1877, because it occurs in patches (see sclerosis).
"state of being manifold or various," mid-15c., multiplicite, from Old French multiplicité or directly from Late Latin multiplicitas "manifoldness, multiplicity," from Latin multiplic-, stem of multiplex "many times as great in number" (see multiple). Related: Multiplicitous.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "strong, great." It forms all or part of: ameliorate; amelioration; meliorate; melioration; meliorism; multi-; multiform; multiple; multiply; multitude. It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek mala "very, very much;" Latin multus "much, many," melior "better."
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to fold."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit putah "fold, pocket;" Albanian pale "fold;" Middle Irish alt "a joint;" Lithuanian pelti "to plait;" Old English faldan "to fold, wrap up, furl."
"manifold, multiple, multiplicate," 1550s, from Latin multiplex "having many folds; many times as great in number; of many parts" (see multiply). As a noun, late 14c. in arithmetic, "a multiple."
"consolidated fleshy multiple fruit" (such as a pineapple), 1831, from Modern Latin, from Greek sōros "a heap" (of corn), which is of uncertain origin.
"revolving firearm," originally and especially a type of pistol able to fire multiple shots without reloading, 1835, agent noun from revolve (v.). So called by U.S. inventor Samuel Colt (1814-1862) for its revolving bored barrel (later models used a revolving chamber cylinder).
1550s, "net-like arrangement of threads, wires, etc., anything formed in the manner of or presenting the appearance of a net or netting," from net (n.) + work (n.). Extended sense of "any complex, interlocking system" is from 1839 (originally in reference to transport by rivers, canals, and railways). Meaning "broadcasting system of multiple transmitters" is from 1914; sense of "interconnected group of people" is by 1934 in psychology jargon.
1864, in anthropology, "the doctrine that the human race is not one but consists of many distinct species" (opposed to monogeny or monogenism), from Late Greek polygenēs "of many kinds," from polys "many" (see poly-) + -genēs "born" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). By c. 1970 the same word was used in a different sense, in reference to the theory that multiple genes contribute to the form or variant of some particular trait of an organism. Another word for the anthropological theory was polygenism (1857).