mid-14c., "equal, match, resemblance, similarity," from Old French comparaison "comparison" (12c.), from Latin comparationem (nominative comparatio), noun of action from past participle stem of comparare "make equal with, liken, bring together for a contest," from com "with, together" (see com-) + par "equal" (see par (n.)).
From late 14c. as "act of putting two things together and regarding them as equal," also "act of comparing."
in rhetoric, "comparison, metaphor," according to Century Dictionary, "especially a formal simile, as in poetry or poetic prose, taken from a present or imagined object or event: distinguished from a paradigm, or comparison with a real past event," 1580s, from Greek parabolē "comparison" (see parable).
mid-15c., "implying comparison," from Old French comparatif, from Latin comparativus "pertaining to comparison," from comparat-, past participle stem of comparare "make equal with, liken, bring together for a contest," from com "with, together" (see com-) + par "equal" (see par (n.)).
Originally grammatical and applied to derived adjectives such as greater, stronger, softer. General sense of "estimated by comparison, relative" is from 1590s. Meaning "involving the parallel pursuit of different branches of a subject" is from 1670s. Old English used wiðmetendlic as a loan-translation of Latin comparativus. Related: Comparatively.