Meaning "group, club" is from 1540s, originally of associations of persons for some specific purpose. Meaning "people bound by neighborhood and intercourse aware of living together in an ordered community" is from 1630s. Sense of "the more cultivated part of any community" first recorded 1823, hence "fashionable people and their doings." The Society Islands were named 1769 by Cook on his third Pacific voyage in honor of the Royal Society, which financed his travels across the world to observe the transit of Venus.
"pertaining to or of the nature of a college," mid-15c., from Latin collegiatus "member of a college or corporation," in Medieval Latin, "of or pertaining to a college," from collegium "community, society, guild" (see college).
community of monks, 1858, from Hindi sangha, Sanskrit samgha, from sam "together" (from PIE root *sem- (1) "one; as one, together with") + han "to come in contact."
1877, "a Russian commune or village," also (with capital M-) the name of a late 20c. space station, Russian, literally "peace, world," also "village, community," from Old Church Slavonic miru "peace," from Proto-Slavic *miru "commune, joy, peace" ("possibly borrowed from Iranian" [Watkins]), from PIE root *mei- (4) "to bind, tie" (see mitre). Old Church Slavonic miru was "used in Christian terminology as a collective 'community of peace' " [Buck], translating Greek kosmos. Hence, "the known world, mankind."