"fictitious prose narrative," 1560s, from Italian novella "short story," originally "new story, news," from Latin novella "new things" (source of French novelle, French nouvelle), neuter plural or fem. of novellus "new, young, recent," diminutive of novus "new" (see new). Originally "one of the tales or short stories in a collection" (especially Boccaccio's), later (1630s) "long prose fiction narrative or tale," a type of work which had before that been called a romance.
A novel is like a violin bow; the box which gives off the sounds is the soul of the reader. [Stendhal, "Life of Henri Brulard"]
The word was used earlier in English in the now-obsolete senses "a novelty, something new," and, in plural, "news, tidings" (mid-15c.), both from Old French novelle.
"German fairy or folk tale," 1871, from German Märchen, "a story or tale," from Middle High German merechyn "short verse narrative," from Old High German mari "news, tale," from Proto-Germanic *mērijaz "renowned, famous, illustrious" (source of Old English mære "famous, renowned," Old Saxon mari, Dutch maar, mare) + diminutive suffix -chen.
Senator McCarthy (R-Wis) renewed his Communists-in-Government charges today and called Senator Tydings (D-Md) the Truman administration's "whimpering lap dog." [AP news story, Aug. 7, 1950]
"gossip-monger, one who is curious to know everything that happens," 1709 (as two words), etymologically "what now?" From Latin quid "what?" (neuter of interrogative pronoun quis "who?" from PIE root *kwo-, stem of relative and interrogative pronouns) and nunc "now" (see now), to describe someone forever asking "What's the news?"
1879 as colloquial shortening of Metropolitan (n.) "member of the New York Metropolitan Base-Ball Club."
THE baseball season has opened, and along with the twittering of the birds, the budding of the trees, and the clattering of the truck, comes the news that the "Mets were beaten yesterday 17 to 5." It is an infallible sign of spring when the Mets are beaten 17 to 5, and we invariably put on our thinner clothing when we read that refreshing, though perennial news in the papers. [Life magazine, May 12, 1887]
Used variously to abbreviate other proper names beginning with Metropolitan, such as "Metropolitan Museum of Art" (N.Y.), by 1919; "Metropolitan Railway" (stock), by 1890; "Metropolitan Opera Company (N.Y.), by 1922. Related: Mets.