1520s, distributer (Latinized form is from 1570s), "one who or that which distributes," agent noun from Latin distribuere "to divide, deal out in portions" (see distribute). As a part that passes current in turn to each spark plug in an internal combustion engine, by 1866.
Old English dælere "divider, distributor; agent, negotiator," agent noun from deal (v.). Meaning "player who passes out the cards in a game" is from c. 1600; meaning "one whose business is to buy and sell merchandise" is from 1610s. Meaning "purveyor of illegal drugs" is recorded by 1920.
"loud warning horn," 1908, originally on automobiles, said to have been named for the company that sold them (The Klaxon Company; distributor for Lovell-McConnell Manufacturing Co., Newark, New Jersey), but probably the company was named for the horn, from a made-up word likely based on Greek klazein "to roar," which is cognate with Latin clangere "to resound" (compare clang).
"official distributor of alms on behalf of another," c. 1300 (mid-13c. as a surname), from Old French almosnier "alms-giver" (12c.; Modern French aumônier), from Vulgar Latin *almosinarius, from Late Latin elemosinarius (adj.) "connected with alms," from eleemosyna "alms" (see alms). OED notes, "the Renascence brought up a number of artificial spellings," and Middle English Compendium lists aumener, aum(s)ner, a(u)moner, aumerer, aumbrer, amener, ambner, aumoiner, almoiner, almer, and halner.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to share out, apportion; to get a share."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bhajati "assigns, allots, apportions, enjoys, loves," bhagah "allotter, distributor, master, lord," bhaksati "eats, drinks, enjoys;" Persian bakhshidan "to give;" Greek phagein "to eat," literally "to have a share of food;" Old Church Slavonic bogatu "rich."
in Hindu scripture, a dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna inserted in Mahabharata; Sanskrit, from Bhaga, a god of wealth, from Sanskrit bhagah, literally "allotter, distributor, master, lord," from bhajati "assigns, allots, apportions, enjoys, loves" (related to Avestan baga, Old Persian baga "master, lord, god," from PIE root *bhag- "to share out, apportion; to get a share") + gita "song," fem. past participle of gayate "sings, calls," from PIE root *gei- "to sing" (source also of Avestan gatha "song," Lithuanian giedoti "to sing"). First translated into English 1785 by English orientalist Charles Wilkins.
mid-15c., Achademie, "the classical Academy," properly the name of the public garden where Plato taught his school, from Old French (Modern French Académie) and directly from Latin Academia, from Greek Akadēmeia "The Academy; the grove of Akadēmos," a legendary Athenian of the Trojan War tales (his name, Latinized as Academus, apparently means "of a silent district"), who was original estate-holder of the site.
The A[cademy], the Garden, the Lyceum, the Porch, the Tub, are names used for the five chief schools of Greek philosophy, their founders, adherents, & doctrines: the A., Plato, the Platonists & Platonism; the Garden, Epicurus, the Epicureans, & Epicureanism; the Lyceum, Aristotle, the Aristotelians, & Aristotelianism; the Porch, Zeno, the Stoics, & Stoicism; the Tub, Antisthenes, the Cynics, & Cynicism. [Fowler]
Compare lyceum. By 1540s the word in English was being used for any school or training place for arts and sciences or higher learning. "In the 18th century it was frequently adopted by schools run by dissenters, and the name is often found attached to the public schools in Scotland and Northern Ireland" [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1941]; hence, in the U.S., a school ranking between an elementary school and a university. "In England the word has been abused, and is now in discredit in this sense" [OED]. By 1560s it was used for "a place of training" in any sense (riding schools, army colleges).
The word also was used of associations of adepts for the cultivation and promotion of some science or art, whether founded by governments, royalty, or private individuals. Hence Academy award (1939), so called for their distributor, the U.S.-based Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (founded 1927).