late 14c., "steadfast, resolute; patient, unshakable; fixed or firm in mind," from Old French constant (14c.) or directly from Latin constantem (nominative constans) "standing firm, stable, steadfast, faithful," present participle of constare"to stand together," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."
Meaning "steadfast in attachment to a person or cause" is from early 15c. Of actions and conditions, "fixed, not varying" (1540s); "continual, enduring" (1650s). Meaning "regularly recurring" is from 1817. Related: Constantly.
1832 in mathematics and physics, "a quantity which is assumed to be invariable throughout," from constant (adj.), which is attested from 1753 in mathematics. The general sense "that which is not subject to change" (1856) is a figurative extension from this.
obsolete form of constancy, mid-14c., constaunce, "steadfastness, self-possession, composure," from Old French constance "steadfastness, permanence" (14c.), from Latin constantia "firm standing, steadiness, firmness, unchangeableness; firmness of character" (source of Italian costanza, Spanish constancia), abstract noun from present-participle stem of constare "to stand together" (see constant (adj.)). Obsolete since 17c. except as a given name for a girl (familiarly Connie), in which use it enjoyed a mild popularity in U.S. c. 1945-1955.
*stā-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to stand, set down, make or be firm," with derivatives meaning "place or thing that is standing."
It forms all or part of: Afghanistan; Anastasia; apostasy; apostate; armistice; arrest; assist; astatic; astatine; Baluchistan; bedstead; circumstance; consist; constable; constant; constitute; contrast; cost; desist; destination; destine; destitute; diastase; distance; distant; ecstasy; epistasis; epistemology; establish; estaminet; estate; etagere; existence; extant; Hindustan; histidine; histo-; histogram; histology; histone; hypostasis; insist; instant; instauration; institute; interstice; isostasy; isostatic; Kazakhstan; metastasis; obstacle; obstetric; obstinate; oust; Pakistan; peristyle; persist; post (n.1) "timber set upright;" press (v.2) "force into service;" presto; prostate; prostitute; resist; rest (v.2) "to be left, remain;" restitution; restive; restore; shtetl; solstice; stable (adj.) "secure against falling;" stable (n.) "building for domestic animals;" stage; stalag; stalwart; stamen; -stan; stance; stanchion; stand; standard; stanza; stapes; starboard; stare decisis; stasis; -stat; stat; state (n.1) "circumstances, conditions;" stater; static; station; statistics; stator; statue; stature; status; statute; staunch; (adj.) "strong, substantial;" stay (v.1) "come to a halt, remain in place;" stay (n.2) "strong rope which supports a ship's mast;" stead; steed; steer (n.) "male beef cattle;" steer (v.) "guide the course of a vehicle;" stem (n.) "trunk of a plant;" stern (n.) "hind part of a ship;" stet; stoa; stoic; stool; store; stound; stow; stud (n.1) "nailhead, knob;" stud (n.2) "horse kept for breeding;" stylite; subsist; substance; substitute; substitution; superstition; system; Taurus; understand.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit tisthati "stands;" Avestan histaiti "to stand;" Persian -stan "country," literally "where one stands;" Greek histēmi "put, place, cause to stand; weigh," stasis "a standing still," statos "placed," stylos "pillar;" Latin sistere "stand still, stop, make stand, place, produce in court," status "manner, position, condition, attitude," stare "to stand," statio "station, post;" Lithuanian stojuos "I place myself," statau "I place;" Old Church Slavonic staja "place myself," stanu "position;" Gothic standan, Old English standan "to stand," stede "place;" Old Norse steði "anvil;" Old Irish sessam "the act of standing."
"attentive, devoted, constant in application," 1530s, from Latin assiduus "attending; continually present, incessant; busy; constant," from assidere/adsidere "to sit down to, sit by" (thus "be constantly occupied" at one's work); from ad "to" (see ad-) + sedere "to sit," from PIE root *sed- (1) "to sit." The word acquired a taint of "servile" in 18c. Related: Assiduously; assiduousness.
in physics, in reference to the work of German physicist Max Planck (1858-1947); such as Planck's constant, attested in English from 1901.