late Old English, in Christian use, "an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace," especially "a sacrament of the Church, one of the religious ceremonies enjoined by Christ or the Church," and later specifically "the sacrament of the Eucharist" (c. 1300), from Old French sacrament "consecration; mystery" (12c., Modern French sacrement) and directly from Latin sacramentum, "a solemn oath" (source also of Spanish sacramento, German Sakrament, etc.), from sacrare "to consecrate" (see sacred).
A Church Latin loan-translation of Greek mysterion (see mystery). The Latin word sacramentum in its secular aspect was used of any engagement or ceremony that binds or imposes obligation, specifically "oath of obedience and fidelity taken by Roman soldiers on enlistment; sum which two parties to a suit first deposit," hence also, "a cause, a civil suit," thus either "a result of consecration" or "a means of consecration." By 3c. it was used in Church Latin for "a mystery, a sacrament, something to be kept sacred; the gospel revelation; a Church sacrament." In theology, particularly, "a solemn religious ceremony enjoined by Christ, or by the church, for the spiritual benefit of the church or of individual Christians, by which their special relation to him is created or recognized or their obligations to him are renewed and ratified."
The meaning "arcane knowledge; a secret; a mystery; a divine mystery" in English is from late 14c. (Wyclif); from mid-14c. as "a solemn oath, pledge, covenant; a ceremony accompanying the taking of an oath or the making of a pledge." The seven sacraments in the West were baptism, penance, confirmation, holy orders, the Eucharist, matrimony, and anointing of the sick (extreme unction); the Reformation loosened the sense in England.
"of, pertaining to, or constituting a sacrament," late 14c., from Old French sacramentaland directly from Late Latin sacramentalis, from sacramentum (see sacrament). As a noun, "religious practice or object," mid-15c.
late 14c., communioun, "participation in something; that which is common to all; union in religious worship, doctrine, or discipline," from Old French comunion "community, communion" (12c.), from Latin communionem (nominative communio) "fellowship, mutual participation, a sharing," used in Late Latin ecclesiastical language for "participation in the sacrament," from communis "common, general" (see common (adj.)).
Used by Augustine, in belief that the word was derived from com- "with, together" + unus "oneness, union." In English, from mid-15c. as "the sacrament of the Eucharist," from c. 1500 as "act of partaking in the sacrament of the Eucharist." From 1610s as "intercourse between two or more."
c. 1300, matrimoine, "the married state, the relation of husband and wife, wedlock; the sacrament of marriage," from Old French matremoine "matrimony, marriage" and directly from Latin mātrimōnium "wedlock, marriage" (in plural "wives"), from mātrem (nominative māter) "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + -mōnium, suffix signifying "action, state, condition."
"one who conducts a religious service, one who administers a sacrament," 1836, from noun use of Medieval Latin officiantem (nominative officians) "performing religious services," present participle of officiare "to perform religious services," from Latin officium "a service; an official duty; ceremonial observance" (in Medieval Latin, "church service"); see office.
"sacrament of the Lord's Supper, the Communion," mid-14c., from Old French eucariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek eukharistia "thanksgiving, gratitude," later "the Lord's Supper," from eukharistos "grateful," from eu "well" (see eu-) + stem of kharizesthai "show favor," from kharis "favor, grace," from PIE root *gher- (2) "to like, want." Eukharisteo is the usual verb for "to thank, to be thankful" in Septuagint and Greek New Testament. Related: Eucharistic.
late 14c., confessioun, "action of confessing, acknowledgment of a fault or wrong," originally in religion, "the disclosing of sins or faults to a priest as one of the four parts of the sacrament of penance," from Old French confession (10c.), from Latin confessionem (nominative confessio) "confession, acknowledgement," noun of action from past-participle stem of confiteri "to acknowledge" (see confess).
An Old English word for it was andettung, also scriftspræc. Meaning "that which is confessed" is mid-15c. Meaning "a formula of the articles of a religious faith, a creed to be assented to" is from late 14c. In the common law, "admission or acknowledgment of guilt made in court or before a magistrate," 1570s.
early 15c., penitenciarie, "place of punishment for offenses against the church," also "a priest appointed to administer the sacrament of penance," especially in extraordinary cases, from Medieval Latin penitentiaria, from fem. of penitentiarius (adj.) "of penance," from Latin paenitentia "penitence" (see penitence).
The meaning "house of correction, prison in which convicts are confined for punishment and reformation and compelled to labor" (originally an asylum for prostitutes) is from 1806, short for penitentiary house (1776). Slang shortening pen is attested from 1884.
As an adjective, from 1570s as "relating to penance," by 1791 as "expressive of contrition."