1590s, "entrusted, delegated," past-participle adjective from commit (v.). Meaning "characterized by commitment" is from 1948.
c. 1300, obligacioun, "a binding pledge, commitment to fulfill a promise or meet conditions of a bargain," from Old French obligacion "obligation, duty, responsibility" (early 13c.) and directly from Latin obligationem (nominative obligatio) "an engaging or pledging," literally "a binding" (but rarely used in this sense), noun of action from past-participle stem of obligare "to bind, bind up, bandage," figuratively "put under obligation" (see oblige). The notion is of binding with promises or by law or duty.
The meaning "that which one is bound or obliged to do, especially by moral or legal claims a duty" is from c. 1600. That of "state or fact of being bound or constrained by gratitude to requite benefits, moral indebtedness," also is from c. 1600. Related: Obligational.
late 14c., "to give in charge, entrust," from Latin committere "to unite, connect, combine; to bring together," from com "with, together" (see com-) + mittere "to release, let go; send, throw" (see mission).
The evolution of the modern range of meanings in English is not entirely clear. Sense of "to perpetrate (a crime), do, perform (especially something reprehensible)" was ancient in Latin; in English it is attested from mid-15c. Meaning "consign (someone) to custody (of prison, a mental institution, etc.) by official warrant" is from early 15c.
From 1530s as "trust (oneself) completely to;" from 1770 as "put or bring into danger by an irrevocable preliminary act." The intransitive use (in place of commit oneself) first recorded 1982, probably influenced by existentialism use (1948) of commitment to translate Sartre's engagement "emotional and moral engagement."
"a flat strip," also "something that binds," Middle English bende, from Old English bend "bond, fetter, shackle, chain, that by which someone or something is bound; ribbon, ornament, chaplet, crown," with later senses and spelling from cognate Old Norse band and technical senses from Old French bande "strip, edge, side" (12c., Old North French bende), all three ultimately from Proto-Germanic *bindan, from PIE root *bhendh- "to bind."
The meaning "a flat strip" (late 14c.) is from French. In Middle English, this was sometimes distinguished by the spelling bande, bonde, but with loss of terminal -e the words have fully merged via the notion of "flat strip of flexible material used to wind around something."
The meaning "broad stripe of color, ray of colored light" is from late 14c.; the electronics sense of "range of frequencies or wavelengths" is from 1922. Most of the figurative senses ("legal or moral commitment; captivity, imprisonment," etc.) have passed into bond (n.), which originally was a phonetic variant of this band. The Middle English form of the word is retained in heraldic bend (n.2) "broad diagonal stripe on a coat-of-arms."
Old English feld "plain, pasture, open land, cultivated land" (as opposed to woodland), also "a parcel of land marked off and used for pasture or tillage," probably related to Old English folde "earth, land," from Proto-Germanic *felthan "flat land" (Cognates: Old Saxon and Old Frisian feld "field," Old Saxon folda "earth," Middle Dutch velt, Dutch veld Old High German felt, German Feld "field," but not found originally outside West Germanic; Swedish fält, Danish felt are borrowed from German; Finnish pelto "field" is believed to have been adapted from Proto-Germanic). This is from PIE *pel(e)-tu-, from root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread." The English spelling with -ie- probably is the work of Anglo-French scribes (compare brief, piece).
As "battle-ground," c. 1300. Meaning "sphere or range of any related things" is from mid-14c. Physics sense is from 1845. Collective use for "all engaged in a sport" (or, in horse-racing, all but the favorite) is 1742; play the field "avoid commitment" (1936) is from notion of gamblers betting on other horses than the favorite. Cricket and baseball sense of "ground on which the game is played" is from 1875. Sense of "tract of ground where something is obtained or extracted" is from 1859. As an adjective in Old English combinations, often with a sense of "rural, rustic" (feldcirice "country-church," feldlic "rural"). Of slaves, "assigned to work in the fields" (1817, in field-hand), opposed to house. A field-trial (1865) originally was of hunting dogs; the term was used earlier in reference to crops (1817).