tropical tree of the order Palmae; the date-palm, Middle English palme, from Old English palma, Old French palme, both from Latin palma "palm tree," originally "palm of the hand;" the tree so called from the shape of its leaves, like fingers of a hand (see palm (n.1)).
The word traveled early to northern Europe, where the tree does not grow, via Christianity, and took root in the local languages (such as Old Saxon palma, Old High German palma, Old Norse palmr); Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorating Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is Old English palm-sunnandæg. In ancient times, a leaf or frond of the palm was carried or worn as a symbol of victory or triumph, or on feast days; hence figurative use of palm for "victory, triumph" (late 14c.).
Palm Beach, Florida, named for the palm groves there, was established as a luxury resort c. 1900 by railroad magnate Henry Flagler. Palm court "large room in a hotel, etc., usually decorated with potted palms" is recorded by 1908.
mid-13c. (late 12c. as a surname), Anglo-French ivorie, from Old North French ivurie (12c.), from Medieval Latin eborium "ivory," noun use of neuter of Latin eboreus "of ivory," from ebur (genitive eboris) "ivory," probably via Phoenician from an African source (compare Egyptian ab "elephant," Coptic ebu "ivory").
It replaced Old English elpendban, literally "elephant bone." Applied in slang to articles made from it, such as dice (1830) and piano keys (1818). As a color, especially in reference to human skin, it is attested from 1580s. Ivories as slang for "teeth" dates from 1782. Black ivory was ivory burnt and powdered, used as a pigment (1810); the sense "African slaves as an article of commerce" is attested from 1834.
Mr. Dunlap then asked the witness what he himself traded in, when on the African coast, and he replied "sometimes in black ivory;" but, being more closely pressed to explain what he meant by "black ivory," he admitted that when he could not get a cargo of real ivory, he took one of slaves. ["Trial of the Twelve Spanish Pirates," Boston, 1834]
Related: Ivoried; ivorine.
"impose (something) on (someone) by fraud," 1670s, from palm (n.1); around the same time it also meant "conceal in the palm of the hand" (1670s) and "handle, manipulate" (1680s). Extended form palm off (something, on someone) is from 1822.
"flat of the hand, inner surface of the hand between the wrist and the fingers," c. 1300, paume, from Old French paume, palme (Modern French paume), from Latin palma "palm of the hand," also "flat end of an oar; palm tree," from PIE root *pele- (2) "flat; to spread" (source also of Greek palamē "open hand," Old Irish lam, Welsh llaw, Old English folm, Old High German folma "hand," Sanskrit panih "hand, hoof").
Palm oil is earlier in the punning sense of "bribe" (1620s) than in the literal sense of "fatty oil obtained from the fruit of the West African palm" (1705, from palm (n.2)).
symbol of artistic or intellectual aloofness, by 1889, from French tour d'ivoire, used in 1837 by critic Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869) with reference to the poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863), whom he accused of excessive aloofness.
Et Vigny, plus secret, comme en sa tour d'ivoire, avant midi rentrait. [Sainte-Beuve, "Pensées d'Août, à M. Villemain," 1837]
Used earlier as a type of a wonder or a symbol of "the ideal." The literal image is perhaps from Song of Solomon [vii:4]:
Thy neck is as a tower of ivory; thine eyes like the fishpools in Heshbon, by the gate of Bathrabbim: thy nose is as the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus. [KJV]
type of fan-leaf palm, 1580s, from Spanish palmito "dwarf fan palm tree," diminutive of palma "palm tree," from Latin palma (see palm (n.2)). The suffix was subsequently Italianized. The Palmetto Flag was an emblem of South Carolina after secession (1860); the state was called Palmetto State from at least 1837.