c. 1300, parchemin (c. 1200 as a surname), "the skin of sheep or goats prepared for use as writing material," from Old French parchemin (11c., Old North French parcamin) and directly from Medieval Latin pergamentum, percamentum, from Late Latin pergamena "parchment," a noun use of an adjective (as in pergamena charta, attested in Pliny), from Late Greek pergamenon "of Pergamon," from Pergamon "Pergamum" (modern Bergama), the city in Mysia in Asia Minor where parchment supposedly first was adopted as a substitute for papyrus in 2c. B.C.E.
The form of the word was possibly influenced in Vulgar Latin by Latin parthica (pellis) "Parthian (leather)." The unetymological -t is an alteration in Middle English by confusion with nouns in -ment and by influence of Medieval Latin collateral form pergamentum. Technological advances in the production of cheap paper eventually restricted parchment's use largely to formal documents, hence parchment in the sense of "a certificate" (by 1888).
word-forming element meaning "book" or sometimes "Bible," from Greek biblion "paper, scroll," also the ordinary word for "a book as a division of a larger work;" originally a diminutive of byblos "Egyptian papyrus." This is perhaps from Byblos, the Phoenician port from which Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece (modern Jebeil, in Lebanon; for sense evolution compare parchment). Or the place name might be from the Greek word, which then would be probably of Egyptian origin. Compare Bible. Latin liber (see library) and English book also are ultimately from plant-words.
late 12c., "leather made from the skin of a sheep," especially when dressed or preserved with the wool on, from sheep + skin (n.). By mid-14c. as "piece of parchment with writing on it;" the U.S. slang meaning "diploma" dates from 1804; so called because formerly they were written on sheepskin parchment.
"a roll of parchment," mid-15c., earlier in now-obsolete sense of "skin, hide" (mid-14c.), from Anglo-French pell, Old French pel "skin" (13c., Modern French peau), from Latin pellem, pellis "skin, leather, parchment, hide" (from PIE root *pel- (3) "skin, hide").
early 15c., from Old French velin "parchment made from calfskin" (13c.), from vel, veel "calf" (see veal).
"having a membrane; of or like a membrane," 1590s, from French membraneux (16c.), from membrane, from Latin membrana "a skin, parchment" (see membrane). The alternative form membraneous is recorded from 1630s.
"a membrane, a thin skin," c. 1400, pellicule, from Medieval Latin pellicula "small or thin skin," diminutive of Latin pellis "skin, leather, parchment, hide" (from PIE root *pel- (3) "skin, hide"). Related: Pellicular.
emblem consisting of a piece of parchment inscribed with certain words and placed in a small hollow cylinder and affixed to the right-hand doorpost in Jewish houses to protect from disease and evil spirits, 1640s, from Hebrew (Semitic), literally "doorpost."
early 15c., "thin layer of skin or soft tissue of the body," a term in anatomy, from Latin membrana "a skin, membrane; parchment (skin prepared for writing)," from membrum "limb, member of the body" (see member). The etymological sense is "that which covers the members of the body."
c. 1400, scroule, scrowell, "roll of parchment or paper" used for writing, an altered (by association with rolle "roll") of scrowe (c. 1200), from Anglo-French escrowe, Old French escroe, escroele "scrap, strip or roll of parchment," from Frankish *skroda "shred" or a similar Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *skrauth- (source also of Old English screada "piece cut off, cutting, scrap"), from PIE *skreu- "to cut; cutting tool," extension of root *sker- (1) "to cut." Also compare shred (v.)). As a spiral-shaped decorative device, resembling a partly unrolled scroll, by early 15c. on garments, by 1610s on furniture or in architecture.