late 14c., "suffering, anguish; act or fact of pressing on the mind or heart," from Old French presseure "oppression; torture; anguish; press" (for wine or cheeses), "instrument of torture" (12c.) and directly from Latin pressura "action of pressing," from pressus, past participle of premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress" (from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike").
The literal meaning "act or fact of pressing" in a physical sense is attested in English from early 15c. The meaning "moral or mental coercing force, exertion of authority or influence" is from 1620s; the meaning "urgency, demand on one's time or energies" is from 1812. Scientific sense in physics, "force per unit area exerted over a surface and toward the interior" is from 1650s.
Pressure cooker "airtight vessel in which food is cooked in steam under pressure" is attested from 1915; figurative sense is from 1958. Pressure point of the skin is attested from 1876. Pressure-treated, of woods impregnated with a preservative fluid under pressure, is from 1911.
c. 1300, sute, also suete, suite, seute, "a band of followers; a retinue, company;" also "set of matching garments" worn by such persons, "matching livery or uniform;" hence " kind, sort; the same kind, a match;" also "pursuit, chase," and in law, "obligation (of a tenant) to attend court; attendance at court," from Anglo-French suit, siwete, from Old French suite, sieute "pursuit, act of following, hunt; retinue; assembly" (12c., Modern French suite), from Vulgar Latin *sequita, fem. of *sequitus, from Latin secutus, past participle of sequi "to attend, follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow").
Legal sense of "lawsuit; legal action" is from mid-14c. Meaning "the wooing of a woman" is from late 15c. Meaning "set of clothes to be worn together" is attested from late 14c., also "matching material or fabric," from notion of the livery or uniform of court attendants. As a derisive term for "businessman," it dates from 1979. Meaning "matched set of objects, number of objects of the same kind or pattern used together" is from late 14c., as is that of "row, series, sequence." Meaning "set of playing cards bearing the same symbol" is attested from 1520s, also ultimately from the notion of livery. To follow suit (1670s) is from card-playing: "play a card of the same suit first played," hence, figuratively, "continue the conduct of a predecessor."
German imperialistic policy of eastward expansion, 1906, literally "pressure to the east." From drang "pressure."