1630s, "action of bringing to a center, act of collecting or combining into or about a central point," noun of action from concentrate (v.). Meaning "a mass so collected" is from 1670s; that of "voluntary continuous focusing of mental activity" is from 1825, in phrenology.
Concentration camp is from 1901, originally "compound for noncombatants in a war zone," a controversial idea in the second Boer War (1899-1902). The term emerged with a bad odor.
The concentration camp has now definitely taken its place side by side with the Black Hole of Calcutta as one of those names of horror at which humanity will never cease to shudder. [The Review of Reviews, London, March 1902]
But it also was used 1902 in reference to then-current U.S. policies in the Philippines, and retroactively in reference to Spanish policies in Cuba during the 1896-98 insurrection there. The phrase was used domestically in the U.S. during the Spanish-American war but only in reference to designated rendezvous points for troops headed overseas. In reference to prisons for dissidents and minorities in Nazi Germany from 1934, in Soviet Russia from 1935.
"concentration or accumulation of mental energy," 1922, from Latinized form of Greek kathexis "holding, retention," from PIE root *segh- "to hold." Used by psychologists to render Freud's (Libido)besetzung.
"diligence," early 15c., from Latin assiduitatem (nominative assiduitas) "continual presence," noun of quality from assiduus "continually present" (see assiduous).
Industry keeps at work, leaving no time idle. Assiduity (literally, a sitting down to work) sticks quietly to a particular task, with the determination to succeed in spite of its difficulty, or to get it done in spite of its length. Application, literally, bends itself to its work, and is, more specifically than assiduity, a steady concentration of one's powers of body and mind .... [Century Dictionary]
late 14c., "a giving heed, active direction of the mind upon some object or topic," from Old French attencion and directly from Latin attentionem (nominative attentio) "attention, attentiveness," noun of action from past-participle stem of attendere "give heed to," literally "to stretch toward," from ad "to, toward" (see ad-) + tendere "stretch," from PIE root *ten- "to stretch."
Rare in English before 17c. Meaning "consideration, observant care" is from 1741; that of "civility, courtesy" is from 1752. Meaning "power of mental concentration" is from 1871. It is used with a remarkable diversity of verbs (pay, gather, attract, draw, call, etc.). As a military cautionary word before giving a command, it is attested from 1792. Attention span is from 1903 (earlier span of attention, 1892). Related: Attentions.
surname attested from early 15c., probably in many cases a variant of Mathieson "son of Matthew," but in some cases perhaps "son of Maddy," from the pet form of the fem. proper name Maud. The city in Wisconsin, U.S., was named 1836 for U.S. President James Madison, who had died that year. As the name of a popular dance of 1960 its signification is unknown; supposedly it originated in Baltimore.
Madison Avenue "values and business of advertising and public relations" is attested by 1954, from the street in Manhattan, laid out c. 1836 and also named for the late president. The concentration of advertising agencies there seems to date from the 1940s.
late 14c., "middle point of a circle; point round which something revolves," from Old French centre (14c.), from Latin centrum "center," originally the fixed point of the two points of a drafting compass (hence "the center of a circle"), from Greek kentron "sharp point, goad, sting of a wasp," from kentein "stitch," from PIE root *kent- "to prick" (source also of Breton kentr "a spur," Welsh cethr "nail," Old High German hantag "sharp, pointed").
The spelling with -re was popularized in Britain by Johnson's dictionary (following Bailey's), though -er is older and was used by Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope. Meaning "the middle of anything" attested from 1590s. Figuratively, "point of concentration" (of power, etc.) is from 1680s. Political use, originally in reference to France, "representatives of moderate views" (between left and right) is from 1837. Center of gravity is recorded from 1650s. Center of attention is from 1868.