"tool with a beveled or sloping cutting edge at one end, used for paring, splitting, gouging, or cutting out," early 14c., from Anglo-French cisel, Old French cisel "chisel," in plural, "scissors, shears" (12c., Modern French ciseau), from Vulgar Latin *cisellum "cutting tool," from Latin caesellum, diminutive of caesus, past participle of caedere "to cut" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike"). Related: Chiseled; chiseling.
c. 1500, "to break, cut, gouge, etc. with a chisel," from chisel (n.). Slang sense of "to cheat, defraud" is first recorded in 1808 as chizzel; origin and connection to the older word are obscure (but compare slang sense of gouge; perhaps the sense is "to cut close" as in a bargain). Related: Chiseled; chiseling.
"having sharp outlines" (as though worked with a chisel), 1821, figurative past-participle adjective from chisel (v.).
*kaə-id-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to strike."
It forms all or part of: abscise; avicide; biocide; caesarian; caesura; cement; chisel; -cide; circumcise; circumcision; concise; decide; decision; deicide; excise (v.); excision; felicide; feticide; filicide; floricide; fratricide; fungicide; gallinicide; genocide; germicide; herbicide; homicide; incise; incision; incisor; infanticide; insecticide; legicide; liberticide; libricide; matricide; parricide; patricide; pesticide; precise; precision; prolicide; scissors; senicide; spermicide; suicide; uxoricide; verbicide.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit skhidati "beats, tears;" Latin caedere "to strike down, fell, slay;" Lithuanian kaišti "shave;" Armenian xait'em "to stab;" Albanian qeth "to shave;" Middle Dutch heien "to drive piles," Old High German heia "wooden hammer," German heien "beat."
Middle English delven, from Old English delfan "to dig, turn up with a spade or other tool, excavate" (class III strong verb; past tense dealf, past participle dolfen), common West Germanic (cognates: Old Saxon delban, Dutch delven, Middle High German telben "to dig"). This is perhaps from a PIE root *dhelbh- (source also of Lithuanian delba "crowbar," Russian dolbit', Czech dlabati, Polish dłubać "to chisel;" Russian dolotó, Czech dlato, Polish dłuto "chisel").
Weak inflections emerged 14c.-16c. Figurative sense of "carry on laborious or continued research" is from mid-15c. Related: Delved; delving; delver.
"stone chisel," 1715, according to OED from a Latin ghost word (apparently a mistake of certe) in Job xix.24 in Vulgate: "stylo ferreo, et plumbi lamina, vel celte sculpantur in silice;" translated, probably correctly, in KJV as, "That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever." But assumed by others to be a genuine carving tool, partly because it was in the Bible, and thereafter adapted by archaeologists as a name for a class of prehistoric implements.