mid-14c., "authority entrusted to someone, delegated authority or power," from Old French commission and directly from Latin commissionem (nominative commissio) "act of committing," in Medieval Latin "delegation of business," noun of action from past participle stem of committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
Meaning "document delegating authority" is from early 15c.; meaning "body of persons charged with authority for the performance of certain special duties" is from late 15c. Sense of "anything entrusted to anyone to perform" is from 1560s; sense of "act of committing or doing" is from 1590s.
Naval sense "period of active service of a warship" is by 1882 (in commission "under the command of an officer" is from 1733). Hence out of commission "laid up in a navy yard or in reserve" (1878), subsequently extended to other machinery, and, figuratively, to persons or human qualities by 1917.
In commercial use, "authority delegated by another for the purchase and sale of goods," 1620s. Meaning "allowance made or percentage given to an agent for transacting business" is from 1725.
c. 1300, "a supply or provision of food for one meal," from Old French mes "portion of food, course at dinner," from Late Latin missus "course at dinner," literally "a placing, a putting (on a table, etc.)," from past participle of mittere "to put, place," in classical Latin "to send, let go" (see mission). For sense evolution, compare early Middle English sonde "a serving of food or drink; a meal or course of a meal," from Old English sond, sand, literally "a sending," the noun form of send (v.).
Meaning "a communal eating place" (especially a military one) is attested by 1530s, from the earlier sense of "a company of persons eating together at the same table" (early 15c.), originally a group of four. The sense of "mixed food," especially "mixed food for animals" (1738), probably is what led to the contemptuous colloquial use of mess for "a jumble, a mixed mass" (1828) and the figurative sense of "state of confusion, a situation of disorder" (1834), as well as "condition of untidiness" (1851).
General use for "a quantity" of anything is attested by 1830. Meaning "excrement" (of animals) is from 1903. Mess-hall "area where military personnel eat and socialize" is by 1832. Mess-kit "the cooking- and table-utensils of a camp, with the chest in which they are kept" is by 1829. Mess-locker "a small locker on shipboard for holding mess-gear" is by 1829.
"liberation from slavery, bondage, or restraint," c. 1400, manumissioun, "Christ's redemption of mankind;" early 15c., "freedom from feudal servitude," also an instance of such release, from Old French manumission "freedom, emancipation," and directly from Latin manumissionem (nominative manumissio) "freeing of a slave," noun of action from past-participle stem of manumittere "to set free," from the phrase manu mittere "release from control," from manu, ablative of manus "power of a master," literally "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + mittere "let go, release" (see mission). Specifically in reference to negro slavery in British colonies by 1660s.
The ceremony of the Manumissio by the Vindicta was as follows:—The master brought his slave before the magistratus, and stated the grounds (causa) of the intended manumission. The lictor of the magistratus laid a rod (festuca) on the head of the slave, accompanied with certain formal words, in which he declared that he was a free man ex Jure Quiritium, that is, "vindicavit in libertatem." The master in the meantime held the slave, and after he had pronounced the words "hunc hominem liberum volo," he turned him round (momento turbinis exit Marcus Dama, Persius, Sat. v. 78) and let him go (emisit e manu, or misit manu, Plaut. Capt. ii. 3. 48), whence the general name of the act of manumission. [William Smith, ed., "Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquity," 1870]
"one who is sent on a mission, person sent by ecclesiastical authority to labor for the propagation of the faith in a place where it has no indigenous organization," 1650s, from missionary (adj.).
The phrase missionary position for "sexual intercourse arrangement in which the couple lies face to face with the woman underneath the man" is attested by 1963, said to have been coined by Kinsey (1948), who identified its origin in work done by Polish anthropologist Bronisław Malinowski in Melanesia in the 1920s; allegedly from the term used by South Pacific peoples to describe what Christian missionaries promoted to replace their local variations. By the late 1960s it became the general term for this type of sex, formerly also was known as the English-American position.
"person sent on a mission," 1620s, from French émissaire (17c.) or directly from Latin emissarius "a scout, a spy," literally "that is sent out," from emissus, past participle of emittere "send forth" (see emit).
Perhaps so called in reference to trees growing nearby (compare Alamogordo, New Mexico, literally "big poplar," and Spanish alameda "a shaded public walk with a row of trees on each side"); but the popular name seems to date from the period 1803-13, when the old mission building was the base for a Spanish cavalry company from the Mexican town of Alamo de Parras in Nueva Vizcaya.
in reference to things, "destroy itself automatically;" see self- + destruct, apparently first attested in the U.S. television series "Mission Impossible" (1966). Self-destructive "having the property of annulling itself" is recorded from 1650s, and self-destruction "destruction of oneself, suicide" is attested from 1580s; self-destroying (n.) is from 1610s.
1818, "a creeping motion, act of creeping," from creep (v.). Meaning "imperceptible motion" is by 1813 in reference to coal mines, 1889 in geology.
Meaning "despicable person" is by 1886, American English slang, perhaps from earlier sense of "a sneak" (1876). Creeper "a gilded rascal" is recorded from c. 1600, and the word also was used of certain classes of thieves, especially those who robbed customers in brothels. The creeps "a feeling of dread or revulsion" is first attested 1849, in Dickens.
Mission creep (1994) is American English, originally military, "unconscious expansion of troops' role in a foreign operation," and used especially in reference to the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu.
From the military perspective, the scapegoat for Somalia was "mission creep." We deployed for one discrete purpose and found ourselves employed for a multiplicity of other missions. This is naive. United States ground forces will likely never again deploy abroad without experiencing the demands of mission creep. [Ralph Peters, "Winning Against Warriors," in Strategic Review, summer 1996]