"to study, get to know, peruse carefully," c. 1200, cunnen, "make an attempt, try or seek to do," from Old English cunnian "to know" (see can (v.1)). Related: Conned; conning.
c. 1300, conninge, "knowledge, understanding, information, learning," a sense now obsolete, verbal noun from connen, cunnen "to have ability or capacity," from Old English cunnan (see can v.1). By mid-14c. as "ability to understand, intelligence; wisdom, prudence;" sense of "cleverness, shrewdness, practical skill in a secret or crafty manner" is by late 14c.
1854, "put up in a can," past-participle adjective from can (v.2). In reference to music, "pre-recorded," from 1903 (with an isolated, hypothetical use from 1894).
John Phillip Sousa, the celebrated bandmaster, strongly condemns "canned music," by which he means automatic musical instruments, such as pianos, organs, graphophones, etc. The professor foresees in the distant future none but mechanical singers, mechanical piano-players, mechanical orchestras, etc., factories running night and day turning out automatic music; bandmasters, choir leaders, organists, etc., being compelled to labor otherwise for their living. [The Cambrian, September 1906]
early 14c., conning, "learned, skillful, possessing knowledge," present participle of connen, cunnen "to know," from Old English cunnan (see can (v.1)), from PIE root *gno- "to know." Also compare cun (v.). Sense of "skillfully deceitful, characterized by crafty ingenuity" is probably by late 14c. Related: Cunningly.
Middle English couth "known, well-known; usual, customary," from Old English cuðe "known," past participle of cunnan "to know," less commonly "to have power to, to be able" (see can (v.1)).
As a past participle it died out 16c. with the emergence of could, but the old word was reborn 1896, with a new sense of "cultured, refined," as a back-formation from uncouth (q.v.). The Old English word forms the first element in the masc. proper name Cuthbert, which literally means "famous-bright."