"oil mingled with balm, a sacred ointment consecrated and used in Church rites," late Old English chrisma, from Church Latin chrisma, from Greek khrisma "an unguent, anointing, unction," from khriein "to anoint," from PIE root *ghrei- "to rub." Chrisom "baptismal robe," is a c. 1200 variant of this. Related: Chrismal; chrismatory.
c. 1600, "the art of beautifying, art of anointing or decorating the human body," from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhnē) "the art of dress and ornament," from fem. of kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order; ornament" (see cosmos). The adjective is feminine because tekhne is a feminine noun.
Meaning "a preparation for beautifying, preparation that renders the n soft and pure or improves the complexion" (originally also the hair) is attested from 1640s. Related: Cosmetics.
Figurative sense of "blandly ingratiating" is first recorded 1742, perhaps in part with a literal sense, but in part a sarcastic usage from unction in the meaning "deep spiritual feeling" (1690s), such as comes from having been anointed in the rite of unction. Related: Unctuously; unctuousness.
Forms in a- by late 14c. Originally in reference to grease or oil smeared on for medicinal purposes; its use in the Coverdale Bible in reference to Christ (as in The Lord's Anointed; see chrism) has spiritualized the word. Related: Anointed; anointing (c. 1300 as a verbal noun).
As the name of a tree from which it comes, late 14c.; from mid-15c. extended to various fragrant garden herbs. Also by extension, "any aromatic preparation used in healing wounds or soothing pain, or as a perfume or in anointing" (late 14c.). Hence the transferred sense of "healing or soothing influence" (1540s). Biblical Balm of Gilead (esteemed for its medicinal properties) is from Coverdale (Jeremiah viii.22); the Hebrew word there is tsori, which was rendered in Septuagint and Vulgate as "resin" (Greek rhetine, Latin resina).
late Old English, in Christian use, "an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," especially "a sacrament of the Church, one of the religious ceremonies enjoined by Christ or the Church," and later specifically "the sacrament of the Eucharist" (c. 1300), from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum, "a solemn oath" (source also of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred).
A Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery). The Latin word sacramentum in its secular aspect was used of any engagement or ceremony that binds or imposes obligation, specifically "oath of obedience and fidelity taken by Roman soldiers on enlistment; sum which two parties to a suit first deposit," hence also, "a cause, a civil suit," thus either "a result of consecration" or "a means of consecration." By 3c. it was used in Church Latin for "a mystery, a sacrament, something to be kept sacred; the gospel revelation; a Church sacrament." In theology, particularly, "a solemn religious ceremony enjoined by Christ, or by the church, for the spiritual benefit of the church or of individual Christians, by which their special relation to him is created or recognized or their obligations to him are renewed and ratified."
The meaning "arcane knowledge; a secret; a mystery; a divine mystery" in English is from late 14c. (Wyclif); from mid-14c. as "a solemn oath, pledge, covenant; a ceremony accompanying the taking of an oath or the making of a pledge." The seven sacraments in the West were baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction); the Reformation loosened the sense in England.