1580s (transitive and intransitive), not found in Middle English, probably from a Low German source such as Middle Dutch splitten, from Proto-Germanic *spleitanan (source also of Danish and Frisian splitte, Old Frisian splita, German spleißen "to split"), from PIE *(s)plei- "to split, splice" (see flint).
U.S. slang meaning "leave, depart" first recorded 1954. Of couples, "to separate, to divorce" from 1942. To split the difference is suggested from 1715; to split (one's) ticket in the U.S. political sense is attested from 1842. To split hairs "make too-nice distinctions" is from 1670s (split a hair; the figurative image itself is implied in Shakespeare). Splitting image "exact likeness" is from 1880. To split the atom is from 1909.
1590s, "narrow cleft, crack, fissure," from split (v.). Meaning "piece of wood formed by splitting" is from 1610s. Meaning "an act of separation, a divorce" is from 1729. From 1861 as the name of the acrobatic feat. Meaning "a drink composed of two liquors" is from 1882; that of "sweet dish of sliced fruit with ice cream" is attested from 1920, American English. Slang meaning "share of the take" is from 1889. Meaning "a draw in a double-header" is from 1920.
1640s, past-participle adjective from split (v.). Split decision is from 1946 of court rulings, 1951 in boxing. Split shift is from 1904. Split personality first attested 1899.
"that which is up," 1530s, from up (adv.). Phrase on the up-(and-up) "honest, straightforward" first attested 1863, American English.
Old English up, uppe, from Proto-Germanic *upp- "up" (source also of Old Frisian, Old Saxon up "up, upward," Old Norse upp; Danish, Dutch op; Old High German uf, German auf "up"; Gothic iup "up, upward," uf "on, upon, under;" Old High German oba, German ob "over, above, on, upon"), from PIE root *upo "under," also "up from under," hence also "over."
As a preposition, "to a higher place" from c. 1500; also "along, through" (1510s), "toward" (1590s). Often used elliptically for go up, come up, rise up, etc. Up the river "in jail" first recorded 1891, originally in reference to Sing Sing, which is up the Hudson from New York City. To drive someone up the wall (1951) is from the notion of the behavior of lunatics or caged animals. Insulting retort up yours (scil. ass) is attested by late 19c.
prefix with various senses, from Old English up (adv.), corresponding to similar prefixes in other Germanic languages.
1550s, "to drive and catch (swans)," from up (adv.). Intransitive meaning "get up, rise to one's feet" (as in up and leave) is recorded from 1640s. Sense of "to move upward" is recorded from 1737. Meaning "increase" (as in up the price of oil) is attested from 1915. Compare Old English verb uppian "to rise up, swell." Related: Upped; upping. Upping block, used for mounting or dismounting horses, carriages, etc., is attested from 1796 (earlier was horsing-block, 1660s).
c. 1300, "dwelling inland or upland," from up (adv.). Meaning "going up" is from 1784. From 1815 as "excited, exhilarated, happy," hence "enthusiastic, optimistic." Up-and-coming "promising" is from 1848. Musical up-tempo (adj.) is recorded from 1948.