"sixtieth part of an hour or degree of a circle," late 14c., from Old French minut (13c.) or directly from Medieval Latin minuta "minute of time; short note," from Latin minuta "a small portion or piece," noun use of fem. of minutus "little, small, minute," past participle of minuere "to lessen, diminish" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small").
In Medieval Latin, pars minuta prima "first small part" was used by mathematician Ptolemy for one-sixtieth of a circle, later one-sixtieth of an hour (next in order was secunda minuta, which became second (n.)). German Minute, Dutch minuut also are from French. Used vaguely for "short time" from late 14c. As a measure expressing distance (travel time) by 1886. Minute hand "hand which indicates the minutes on a clock or watch" is attested from 1726. Minute-jumper (1890) was the name for the kind of electric clock on which the hands move only at the end of each minute.
mid-15c., "chopped small," from Latin minutus "little, small, minute," past participle of minuere "to lessen, diminish" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small"). Meaning "very small in size or degree, diminutive or limited, petty" is attested from late 15c. That of "particular, closely precise or exact" is from 1680s. Related: Minutely; minuteness.
also minute-man, in U.S. history, one of a class of militia who held themselves in readiness for immediate service in arms (i.e. ready "at a minute's notice" or "in a matter of minutes"), 1774, from minute (n.) + man (n.). As the name of a type of ICBM, from 1961, so called because they could be launched with very little preparation.
"written record of proceedings at a meeting of a corporation, society, etc., made by its secretary or other recording officer," c. 1710, plural of minute "summary or draft of a document or letter," which is is attested from mid-15c. Perhaps from Latin minuta scriptura "rough notes," literally "small writing" (see minute (adj.)), on the notion of "a rough copy in small writing."
"one-sixtieth of a minute of degree," also "sixtieth part of a minute of time," late 14c. in geometry and astronomy, seconde, from Old French seconde, from Medieval Latin secunda, short for secunda pars minuta "second diminished part," the result of the second division of the hour by sixty (the first being the "prime minute," now simply the minute), from Latin secunda, fem. of secundus "following, next in time or order" (see second (adj.)).
The second hand of a clock, the pointer indicating the passage of seconds, is attested by 1759.