c. 1400, "spiritual, incorporeal, not consisting of matter," from Medieval Latin immaterialis "not consisting of matter, spiritual," from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + Late Latin materialis "of or belonging to matter" (see material (adj.)). Sense of "unimportant, of no consequence" is first recorded 1690s from material (adj.) in its meaning "important" (16c.). Related: Immaterially (late 14c.); immateriality.
1580s, of an animal, "fondled and indulged," from pet (n.1). Of a thing, material or immaterial, "favored, favorite," by 1826.
1610s, of physical things, from French flexibilité (in Old French, "weakness, vacillation") or directly from Late Latin flexibilitatem (nominative flexibilitas), from Latin flexibilis "pliant, yielding" (see flexible). Of immaterial things from 1783.
c. 1300, "Holy Ghost," from Old French esprit "spirit," from Latin spiritus (see spirit (n.)). From mid-14c. as "immaterial being; angel, demon, elf, fairy; apparition, ghost."
1670s, "a branching out, a structure like or analogous to the branches of a tree," from French ramification, from ramifier (see ramify). Transferred sense of "outgrowth, consequence," in reference to immaterial things, is attested by 1755. Related: Ramifications.
1852, "move by means of a ratchet," from ratchet (n.). Transferred sense "cause something (immaterial) to move (up or down) in jerky increments, as if by ratchet" is attested by 1977. Related: Ratcheted; ratcheting.