Etymology
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card (v.2)
"to comb wool," late 14c., from card (n.2) or else from Old French carder, from Old Provençal cardar "to card," from Vulgar Latin *caritare, from Latin carrere "to clean or comb with a card," perhaps from PIE root *kars- "to scrape" (see harsh). Related: Carded; carding.
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player (n.)

Middle English pleiere, from Old English plegere "one who takes part in pastimes or amusements," an agent noun from play (v.). The stage senses of "performer of plays, professional actor," also "one who performs on a musical instrument" are from c. 1400. The meaning "contestant in field or martial games" is from early 15c.; of table games, late 14c. As a pimp's word for himself (also playa), it is attested from 1974 (the sexual senses of play (v.) go back to 13c.). Player-piano is attested from 1901.

Friends, who on a domestic stage allot parts to each other, and repeat a drama, are actors, but not players. Many a libertine has taken to the stage for a maintenance, and has become a player without becoming an actor. The great theatres engage those who act well ; the strolling companies those who play cheap. [William Taylor, "English Synonyms Discriminated," 1813]
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card (v.1)
1540s, "to play cards" (now obsolete), from card (n.1). From 1925 as "to write (something) on a card for filing." Meaning "require (someone) to show an identification card" is from 1970s. Related: Carded; carding.
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card (n.2)
"implement or machine for combing, brush with wire teeth used in disentangling fibers for spinning," late 14c. (mid-14c. in surname Cardmaker), from Old French carde "card, teasel," from Old Provençal cardo or some other Romanic source (compare Spanish and Italian carda "thistle, tease, card," back-formation from cardar "to card" (see card (v.2)). The English word probably also comes via Anglo-Latin cardo, from Medieval Latin carda "a teasel," from Latin carduus.
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card (n.1)

early 15c., "a playing card," from Old French carte (14c.), from Medieval Latin carta/charta "a card, paper; a writing, a charter," from Latin charta "leaf of paper, a writing, tablet," from Greek khartēs "layer of papyrus," which is probably from Egyptian. Form influenced by Italian cognate carta "paper, leaf of paper." Compare chart (n.). The shift in English from -t to -d is unexplained.

Sense of "playing cards" also is oldest in French. Sense in English extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff pieces of paper. As "small piece of cardboard upon which is written or printed the name, address, etc. of the person presenting it" is from 1795, visiting-cards for social calls, business-cards announcing one's profession. Meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1862.

Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, as in smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c. 1560).

Card-sharper "professional cheat at cards" is from 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense "any insecure or flimsy scheme" is from 1640s, first attested in Milton, from children's play. To (figuratively) have a card up (one's) sleeve is from 1898. To play the _______ card (for political advantage) is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment."

Cards are first mentioned in Spain in 1371, described in detail in Switzerland in 1377, and by 1380 reliably reported from places as far apart as Florence, Basle, Regensburg, Brabant, Paris, and Barcelona. References are also claimed for earlier dates, but these are relatively sparse and do not withstand scrutiny. [David Parlett, "A History of Card Games"]
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credit-card (n.)
1952 in the modern sense; see credit (n.) + card (n.1). The phrase was used late 19c. to mean "traveler's check."
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wild card (n.)
1950 in figurative sense, from literal use in certain forms of poker (1941), from wild (adj.) + card (n.1). The phrase was used occasionally c. 1900 in British and Irish writing to mean "drinking, free-spirited man."
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face-card (n.)
"court card," 1826, from face (n.) + card (n.1). So called for the portaits on them.
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card-table (n.)
"table for playing card games," 1713, from card (n.1) + table (n.).
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card-catalogue (n.)

"catalogue of a library in which entries are made on separate cards arranged in order in boxes or drawers," 1853, in the regulations of the Boston public library, from card (n.1) + catalogue (n.).

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