late 13c. (c. 1200 as a surname), "thick board used in construction," from Old North French planke, a variant of Old French planche "plank, slab, little wooden bridge" (12c.), from Late Latin planca "broad slab, board," probably from Latin plancus "flat, flat-footed," from a nasalized variant of PIE root *plak- (1) "to be flat." Planche itself was also used in Middle English.
Technically, timber sawed to measure 2 to 6 inches thick, 9 inches or more wide, and 8 feet or more long. The political sense of "article or paragraph formulating a distinct principle in a party platform" is U.S. coinage from 1848, based on the double sense of platform. To be made to walk the plank, "be forced to walk along a plank laid across the bulwarks of a ship until one reaches the end and falls into the sea," popularly supposed to have been a pirate form of execution, is attested from 1789, and most early references are to slave-ships disposing of excess human cargo in crossing the ocean.
also seesaw, 1630s, in see-saw-sacke a downe (like a Sawyer), words in a rhythmic jingle used by children and repetitive-motion workers, probably imitative of the rhythmic back-and-forth motion of sawyers working a two-man pit saw (see saw (n.1). Ha ha.).
In reference to a children's sport of going alternately up and down on a plank balanced on some support, it is recorded from 1704; the figurative sense of this is from 1714. Applied from 1824 to the plank arranged and adjusted for the game. Also compare teeter-totter under teeter (v.).
"plank or board," especially of fir or pine, late 14c., dele, from Low German (compare Middle Low German dele), from Proto-Germanic *theljon." From late 13c. in surnames. An Old English derivative was þelu"hewn wood, board, flooring."
a word applied by Europeans to any small, light boat on the Chinese pattern, used on the coasts of East Asia, 1610s, from Chinese san pan, literally "three boards," from san "three" + pan "plank." In 16c. Spanish made it cempan; Portuguese had it as champana.
"piece of timber sawn flat and thin, longer than it is wide, wider than it is thick, narrower than a plank;" Old English bord "a plank, flat surface," from Proto-Germanic *burdam (source also of Old Norse borð "plank," Dutch bord "board," Gothic fotu-baurd "foot-stool," German Brett "plank"), perhaps from a PIE verb meaning "to cut." See also board (n.2), with which this is so confused as practically to form one word (if indeed they were not the same word all along).
In late Old English or early Middle English the sense was extended to include "table;" hence the transferred meaning "food" (early 14c.), as "that which is served upon a table," especially "daily meals provided at a place of lodging" (late 14c.). Compare boarder, boarding, and Old Norse borð, which also had a secondary sense of "table" and an extended sense "maintenance at table." Hence also above board "honest, open" (1610s; compare modern under the table "dishonest").
A further extension was to "table where council is held" (1570s), from whence the word was transferred to "leadership council, persons having the management of some public or private concern" (1610s), as in board of directors (1712).
"Bow to the board," said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing no board but the table, fortunately bowed to that.
The meaning "table upon which public notices are written" is from mid-14c. The meaning "table upon which a game is played" is from late 14c. The sense of "thick, stiff paper" is from 1530s. Boards "stage of a theater" is from 1768.