1640s, "capable of performance" (a sense now obsolete), also "of the branch of government that carries out the laws," from Latin executivus, from past participle stem of exequi "follow after; carry out, accomplish" (see execution). The sense of "concerned with or pertaining to the function of carrying into practical effect" is from 1670s. The noun meaning "person or persons invested with supreme executive power in a country" is from 1776, as a branch of government charged with the execution and enforcement of the laws. Meaning "high-ranking businessman, person holding an executive position in a business organization" is by 1902 in American English; hence the adjectival sense "stylish, luxurious, costly" (1970s). Executive privilege in reference to the U.S. president is attested by 1805, American English.
mid-14c., "act of giving or dispensing;" late 14c., "management (of a business, property, etc.), act of administering," from Latin administrationem (nominative administratio) "aid, help, cooperation; direction, management," noun of action from past-participle stem of administrare "to help, assist; manage, control, guide, superintend; rule, direct," from ad "to" (see ad-) + ministrare "to serve, attend, wait upon," from minister "inferior, servant, priest's assistant" (see minister (n.)).
Early 15c. as "management of a deceased person's estate under a commission from authority." Meaning "management of public affairs" is from 1680s; hence, "executive power in a government" (1731), though later in Britain government was used in this sense. Meaning "a U.S. president's period in office" is first recorded 1796 in writings of George Washington.
The administration of government, in its largest sense, comprehends all the operations of the body politic, whether legislative, executive, or judiciary; but in its most usual, and perhaps in its most precise, signification, it is limited to executive details, and falls peculiarly within the province of the executive department. ["The Federalist," No. 72 (Hamilton)]
"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.
"office or official position of a secretary" in the administrative and executive sense, 1811, from French secrétariat, from Medieval Latin secretariatus "the office of a secretary," from secretarius "clerk, notary, confidential officer, confidant" (see secretary). Meaning "division of the Central Committee of the USSR" (with capital S-) is from 1926, from Russian sekretariat.
"fine stripe repeated as a figure on cloth," 1882, from pin (n.), on the notion of long, slender, and straight, + stripe (n.1). Characteristic of the uniforms of many baseball teams from 1907 and after. Suits of pin-stripe cloth being the conventional garb of the mid-20c. businessman, the word came to be figurative of "executive" by 1958.
"publicity or press agent," 1945, also by that year as a verb, said to have been coined at show biz magazine Variety (but the first attested use is not in Variety) and supposedly from name of Gene Flack, a movie agent, but influenced by flak. There was a Gene Flack who was an advertising executive in the U.S. during the 1940s, but he seems to have sold principally biscuits, not movies.
"state in which supreme or executive power rests in the people via representatives chosen by citizens entitled to vote," c. 1600, from French république (15c.), from Latin respublica (ablative republica) "the common weal, a commonwealth, state, republic," literally res publica "public interest, the state," from res "affair, matter, thing" (see re) + publica, fem. of publicus "public" (see public (adj.)).
Applied to particular states so constituted by 1630s. The notion of "community in which there is a certain equality of members" is behind such expressions as republic of letters "collective body of those engaged in literary pursuits," attested from 1702.
mid-15c., "a guide;" 1540s, "a book of rules," especially ecclesiastical, "book of directions for saying various Church offices," from Medieval Latin directorium, noun use of neuter of Latin directorius, from directus, past participle of dirigere "to set straight,"(see direct (v.)).
Meaning "alphabetical listing of inhabitants of a region" is from 1732; sense of "listing of telephone numbers" is from 1908.
As "a board of directors" by 1803, especially in reference to the French Directoire, the five-man executive government of France from 1796 to 1799.
As an adjective, "guiding, directive," from mid-15c. As "of or resembling the style in fashion and decorative arts prevailing at the time of the Directoire," by 1878.