by 1741, "to arrange (something) so as to face east," from French s'orienter "to take one's bearings," literally "to face the east" (also the source of German orientierung), from Old French orient "east," from Latin orientum (see orient (n.)). Extended meaning "place or arrange in any definite position with reference to the points of the compass" is by 1842; the figurative sense, with reference to new situations or ideas, is by 1850. Related: Oriented; orienting.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit usah "dawn;" Greek ēōs "dawn;" Latin Aurora "goddess of dawn," auster "south wind;" Lithuanian aušra "dawn;" Old English east "east."
late 14c., "the direction east; the part of the horizon where the sun first appears," also (now with capital O-) "the eastern regions of the world, eastern countries" (originally vaguely meaning the region east and south of Europe, what is now called the Middle East but also sometimes Egypt and India), from Old French orient "east" (11c.), from Latin orientem (nominative oriens) "the rising sun, the east, part of the sky where the sun rises," originally "rising" (adj.), present participle of oriri "to rise" (see origin).
Meaning "a pearl of the first water" is by 1831, short for pearl of the Orient (late 14c.) originally meaning one from the Indian seas. Hence also the meaning "a delicate iridescence, the peculiar luster of a fine pearl" (1755). The Orient Express was a train that ran from Paris to Istanbul via Vienna 1883-1961, from the start it was associated with espionage and intrigue.
county in East Anglia, England, late 14c., earlier Norþfolc, Nordfolc, 1066, literally "(Territory of the) Northern People (of the East Angles);" see north + folk (n.). The Norfolk pine (1778), used as an ornamental tree, is from Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, northwest of New Zealand, where it is native.