mid-15c., corporacioun, "persons united in a body for some purpose," from such use in Anglo-Latin, from Late Latin corporationem (nominative corporatio) "assumption of a body" (used of the incarnation of Christ), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin corporare "embody, make or fashion into a body," from corpus (genitive corporis) "body, dead body, animal body," also "a whole composed of united parts, a structure, system,community, corporation, political body, a guild" (from PIE root *kwrep- "body, form, appearance").
Meaning "legally authorized entity, artificial person created by law from a group or succession of persons" (such as municipal governments and modern business companies) is from 1610s.
late 14c., publike, "open to general observation," from Old French public (c. 1300) and directly from Latin publicus "of the people; of the state; done for the state," also "common, general, of or belonging to the people at large; ordinary, vulgar," and as a noun, "a commonwealth; public property." This Latin word was altered (probably by influence of Latin pubes "adult population, adult;" see pubis) from Old Latin poplicus "pertaining to the people," from populus "people" (see people (n.)).
Attested in English from early 15c. as "of or pertaining to the people at large" and from late 15c. as "pertaining to public affairs." The meaning "open to all in the community, to be shared or participated in by people at large" is from 1540s in English. An Old English adjective in this sense was folclic. The sense of "done or made by or on behalf of the community as a whole" is by 1550s; that of "regarding or directed to the interests of the community at large, patriotic" is from c. 1600.
Public relations "the management of the relationship between a company or corporation and the general public" is recorded by 1913 (with an isolated use by Thomas Jefferson in 1807). Public office "position held by a public official" is from 1821; public service is from 1570s; public interest "the common well-being" is from 1670s. Public enemy, one considered a nuisance to the general community, is attested from 1756. Public sector attested from 1949. Public funds (1713) are the funded debts of a government.
Public woman "prostitute" is by 1580s, on the notion of "open for the use of all." For public house, see pub.
c. 1100, "celebration of public religious worship according to prescribed forms or methods," from Old French servise "act of homage; servitude; service at table; Mass, church ceremony," from Latin servitium (in Medieval Latin also servicium) "slavery, condition of a slave, servitude," also "slaves collectively" (in Medieval Latin "service"), from servus "slave" (see serve (v.)).
The meaning "act of serving, occupation of an attendant servant" is attested from c. 1200, as is that of "assistance, help; a helpful act." From c. 1300 as "provision of food; sequence of dishes served in a meal;" from late 14c. as "service at table, attendance during a meal." The sense of "the furniture of the table" (tea service, etc.) is from mid-15c.
Meanings "state of being bound to undertake tasks for someone or at someone's direction" and "labor performed or undertaken for another" are mid-13c. The sense of "service or employment in a court or administration" is from c. 1300, as is that of "military service (especially by a knight); employment as a soldier;" hence "the military as an occupation" (1706).
The meaning "the supplying of electricity, water, gas, etc., for domestic use" is by 1879; later extended to broadcasting (1927), etc. The meaning "expert care or assistance given by manufacturers or dealers to the purchasers of their goods" is by 1919. Service industry (as distinct from production) is attested from 1938; service there indicates the section of the economy that supplies consumer needs but makes no tangible goods (a sense attested by 1936). Service-charge is attested by 1929. A service station originally was a gas stop that also repaired cars.
At your service as a phrase of politeness is attested by c. 1600. Service-book, containing forms for public worship, is attested from 1570s. Also in Middle English, service was "the devotion or suit of a lover" (late 14c.), and "sexual intercourse, conjugal relations" (mid-15c.; service of Venus, or flesh's service).
1893, "to provide with service," from service (n.1). Middle English servisen was "to serve (someone) as a knight or retainer" (c. 1300), from the noun, but it seems to have died with the feudal system and the modern verb likely is a re-coinage. Meaning "perform routine maintenance work on" is by 1926. Related: Serviced; servicing.
type of tree native to continental Europe; also the fruit or berry of it, 1520s, servyse, serves, an extended form of earlier serve "the service tree" (perhaps via Middle English plural serves being taken as a singular), from Old English syrfe, Old French sorbe, both of which are from Vulgar Latin *sorbea, from Latin sorbus (see sorb). Service-berry is attested from 1570s; service-tree by c. 1600.
"the general body of people constituting a nation, state, or community; the nation or state," 1610s, from public (adj.); the meaning "people in general" is from 1660s. In public "in open view, publicly, before the people at large" is attested from c. 1500.
"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.
"something proffered but not performed, service with the lips only; insincere profession of good will," 1640s, from lip (n.) + service (n.1). Earlier in same sense was lip-labour (1530s). This was a general pattern in 16c.-17c., for example lip-wisdom (1580s), the wisdom of those who do not practice what they preach; lip-religion (1590s), lip-devotion "prayer without genuine faith or desire" (c. 1600); lip-comfort (1630s).
1570s, originally, in Britain, "a grammar school endowed for the benefit of the public," but most have evolved into boarding-schools for the well-to-do. From public (adj.) + school (n.1). The main modern meaning in U.S., "school (usually free) provided at public expense and run by local authorities," is attested from 1640s.