early 14c., "one who holds an official post, one entrusted with a responsibility or share of the management of some undertaking" (originally a high office), from Old French oficier "officer, official" (early 14c., Modern French officier), from Medieval Latin officiarius "an officer," from Latin officium "a service, a duty" (see office).
In Middle English also "a servant, a retainer of a great household; an official at court" (late 14c.). From late 14c. as "a military retainer," but the modern military sense of "one who holds a commission in the army or navy" is from 1560s. Applied to petty officials of justice from 16c.; U.S. use in reference to policemen is from 1880s.
The phrase officer and a gentleman in reference to one having the qualities of both is by 1762 and was standard language in British court-martial indictments ("behaviour infamous and scandalous such as is unbecoming the character of an officer and a gentleman").
The words 'officer and gentleman,' though in general to be understood as one single and indivisible term, appear not to be so used here. The misbehaviour, entailing on it the penalty declared by this article, must be such, as I understand it, as to implicate, in the first place, the officer; that is, it must arise in some sort out of his office; and affect incidentally only, the character of the gentleman. It must be such a misconduct, as must necessarily dissever what should ever be indivisible, the consideration of the officer from the gentleman. It must be of that decisively low, humiliating, and debasing kind, as to lay prostrate the honour of the gentleman, in the degradation of the officer. [Capt. Hough and George Long, "The Practice of Courts-Martial," London, 1825]
1640s, "capable of performance" (a sense now obsolete), also "of the branch of government that carries out the laws," from Latin executivus, from past participle stem of exequi "follow after; carry out, accomplish" (see execution). The sense of "concerned with or pertaining to the function of carrying into practical effect" is from 1670s. The noun meaning "person or persons invested with supreme executive power in a country" is from 1776, as a branch of government charged with the execution and enforcement of the laws. Meaning "high-ranking businessman, person holding an executive position in a business organization" is by 1902 in American English; hence the adjectival sense "stylish, luxurious, costly" (1970s). Executive privilege in reference to the U.S. president is attested by 1805, American English.
"office or official position of a secretary" in the administrative and executive sense, 1811, from French secrétariat, from Medieval Latin secretariatus "the office of a secretary," from secretarius "clerk, notary, confidential officer, confidant" (see secretary). Meaning "division of the Central Committee of the USSR" (with capital S-) is from 1926, from Russian sekretariat.
mid-13c., "high officer of the royal court," charged with regulating ceremonies and maintaining order (early 13c. as a surname), from Old French mareschal "commanding officer of an army; officer in charge of a household" (Modern French maréchal), originally "stable officer, horse tender, groom" (Frankish Latin mariscaluis) from Frankish *marhskalk or a similar Germanic word, literally "horse-servant" (compare Old High German marahscalc "groom," Middle Dutch maerschalc).
This is from a Proto-Germanic compound of *markhaz "horse" (see mare (n.1)) + *skalkaz "servant" (source of Old English scealc "servant, retainer, member of a crew," Dutch schalk "rogue, wag," Gothic skalks "servant"). It corresponds to Old English horsþegn.
From early 14c. as "military commander, general in the army." In the U.S., a civil officer appointed by the president (with advice and consent of the Senate) in each judicial district as the executive officer of the Supreme Court and the federal courts in his district. For sense development and the tendency of officers of the stable to become chief officers of royal households, compare constable. Also from Germanic are Italian scalco "steward," Spanish mariscal "marshal."
"naval branch of the English executive," early 15c., admiralte, from Old French amiralte, from amirail (see admiral).
also quarter-master, early 15c., "subordinate officer of a ship," from French quartier-maître or directly from Dutch kwartier-meester; originally a ship's officer whose duties included stowing of the hold; later (c. 1600) an officer in charge of quarters and rations for troops. See quarters.
late 14c., "appointed governor of a province; chosen leader of a body of persons," from Old French president and directly from Latin praesidentum (nominative praesidens) "president, governor," noun use of present participle of praesidere "to act as head or chief" (see preside). In Middle English of heads of religious houses, hospitals, almshouses, colleges and universities.
First use for "chief executive officer of a republic" is in U.S. Constitution (1787), from earlier American use for "officer in charge of the Continental Congress" (1774), earlier of individual colonies (Virginia, 1608), a sense derived from that of "chosen head of a meeting or group of persons," which is from Middle English. During and immediately after the Revolution the chief magistrates of certain states (New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Delaware, South Carolina) took the title, which eventually reverted to governor.
It had been used of chief officers of banks from 1781. Slang shortening prez is recorded from 1883. Fem. form presidentess is attested from 1763.
mid-14c., administracioun, "act of giving or dispensing;" late 14c., "management (of a business, property, etc.), act of administering," from Latin administrationem (nominative administratio) "aid, help, cooperation; direction, management," noun of action from past-participle stem of administrare "to help, assist; manage, control, guide, superintend; rule, direct," from ad "to" (see ad-) + ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).
It is attested by early 15c. as "management of a deceased person's estate under a commission from authority." The sense of "management of public affairs" is from 1680s; hence, "executive power in a government" (1731), though in Britain later government was used in this sense. The meaning "a U.S. president's period in office" is recorded by 1796 in the writings of George Washington.
The administration of government, in its largest sense, comprehends all the operations of the body politic, whether legislative, executive, or judiciary; but in its most usual, and perhaps in its most precise, signification, it is limited to executive details, and falls peculiarly within the province of the executive department. ["The Federalist," No. 72 (Hamilton)]
"the executive branch of the public service," as distinguished from the military, naval, legislative, or judicial, 1765, originally in reference to non-military staff of the East India Company, from civil in the sense "not military." Civil servant is from 1792.