c. 1300, "space, area, extent, circumference," from Old French compas "circle, radius; size, extent; pair of compasses" (12c.), from compasser "to go around, measure (with a compass); divide equally," from Vulgar Latin *compassare "to pace out," from Latin com "with, together" (see com-) + passus "a step" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread").
The mathematical instrument for describing circles was so called in English from mid-14c. The mariners' directional tool (so called since early 15c.) took the name, perhaps, because it's round and has a point like the mathematical instrument.
Meaning "limits, boundary" is from 1550s. Sense of "range of notes which a given voice or instrument can produce" is from 1590s.
The word is in most European languages, with a mathematical sense in Romance, a nautical sense in Germanic, and both in English. In Middle English it also could mean "ingenuity, subtlety, cunning." Also an adverb in Middle English: to go compass was "go in a circle, go around."
c. 1200, pointe, "minute amount, single item in a whole; sharp end of a sword, etc.," a merger of two words, both ultimately from Latin pungere "to prick, pierce," from a nasalized form of PIE root *peuk- "to prick."
The Latin neuter past participle punctum was used as a noun, meaning "small hole made by pricking," subsequently extended to anything that looked like one, hence, "dot, particle," etc. This yielded Old French point "dot; smallest amount," which was borrowed in Middle English in the "smallest amount" sense by c. 1300. The meaning "small mark, dot" (mark made by the end of a pointed instrument) in English is from mid-14c.
Meanwhile the Latin fem. past participle of pungere was puncta, which was used in Medieval Latin to mean "sharp tip," and became Old French pointe "point of a weapon, vanguard of an army," which also passed into English (early 14c.). The senses have merged in English, but remain distinct in French.
The sense of "peak or promontory from a land or coast" is from 1550s. The extended senses often are from the notion of "minute, single, or separate items in an extended whole." The sense of "brief period of time, instant" is from late 14c. Meaning "distinguishing feature" (especially a good one) is recorded from late 15c. Meaning "a unit of score in a game" is recorded from 1746.
The meaning "recognized unit of fluctuation of price per share on an exchange" is by 1814. As a typeface unit (in Britain and U.S., one twelfth of a pica), it went into use in U.S. 1883. As a measure of weight for precious stones (one one-hundredth of a carat) it is recorded from 1931. Meaning "diacritical mark indicating a vowel or other modification of sound" is from 1610s.
The point "the matter being discussed" is attested from late 14c.; meaning "sense, purpose, end, aim, advantage" (usually in the negative, as in what's the point?) is recorded by 1903. Point of honor (1610s) translates French point d'honneur. Point of no return (1941) is originally aviators' term for the point in a flight "before which any engine failure requires an immediate turn around and return to the point of departure, and beyond which such return is no longer practical" [Young America's Aviation Annual]. To make a point of "be resolved to do something and do it accordingly" is from 1778.
c. 1300, "to devise, plan;" early 14c. as "to surround, contain, envelop, enclose;" from Anglo-French cumpasser, Old French compasser "to go around, measure (with a compass), divide equally, calculate; plan" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *compassare "to pace out" (source of Italian compassare, Spanish compasar), from Latin com "with, together" (see com-) + passus "a step" (from PIE root *pete- "to spread"). Related: Compassed; compassing.
late 14c., "indicate with the finger;" c. 1400, "wound by stabbing; make pauses in reading a text; seal or fill openings or joints or between tiles," partly from Old French pointoier "to prick, stab, jab, mark," and also from point (n.).
From mid-15c. as "to stitch, mend." From late 15c. as "furnish (a garment) with tags or laces for fastening;" from late 15c. as "aim (something), direct toward an object." Related: Pointed; pointing. To point up "emphasize" is from 1934; to point out "indicate, show, make manifest" is from 1570s.
1570s, in gunnery, "having a horizontal direction," said to be from point (v.) + blank (n.), here meaning the white center of a target. The notion would be of standing close enough to aim (point) at the blank without allowance for curve, windage, or gravity.
But early references make no mention of a white target, and the phrase is possibly from a simplification of the French phrase de pointe en blanc, used in French gunnery in reference to firing a piece on the level into open space to test how far it will carry. In that case the blank represents "empty space" or perhaps the "zero point" of elevation. The whole phrase might be a French loan-translation from Italian.
From 1590s as an adjective in English. The transferred meaning "direct, blunt, straight, without circumlocution" is from 1650s.
"position from which a thing is or is supposed to be viewed," 1727, translating French point de vue, a loan-translation of Latin punctum visus. Figurative use "state of mind, predisposition (conscious or not)" is from 1760. The Latin phrase was translated into German as Gesichtspunkt.
"one who leads a military patrol in formation in a jungle, etc.," 1944, said to be from point (n.) in military sense of "small leading party of an advance guard" (1580s) + man (n.). A more literal sense also is possible. Point (n.) in U.S. also meant "position at the front of a herd of cattle," and pointman in this sense is attested by 1903.
mid-13c., "a carrying of oneself, deportment," verbal noun from bear (v.). The meaning "direction or point of the compass in which an object is seen or is moving" is from 1630s; to take (one's) bearings is from 1711. The mechanical sense of "part of a machine that 'bears' the friction" is from 1791.