early 15c., "faithfulness, devotion," from Old French fidélité (15c.), from Latin fidelitatem (nominative fidelitas) "faithfulness, adherence, trustiness," from fidelis "faithful, true, trusty, sincere," from fides "faith" (from PIE root *bheidh- "to trust, confide, persuade"). From 1530s as "faithful adherence to truth or reality;" specifically of sound reproduction from 1878.
It forms all or part of: abide; abode; affiance; affidavit; auto-da-fe; bide; bona fide; confederate; confidant; confide; confidence; confident; defiance; defy; diffidence; diffident; faith; fealty; federal; federate; federation; fiancee; fideism; fidelity; fiducial; fiduciary; infidel; infidelity; nullifidian; perfidy; solifidian.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pistis "faith, confidence, honesty;" Latin fides "trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief;" Albanian be "oath," bindem "to be convinced, believe;" Old Church Slavonic beda "distress, necessity," bediti "to force, persuade;" Old English biddan "to ask, beg, pray," German bitten "to ask."
1630s, "action based on natural instincts," from natural (adj.) + -ism. In philosophy, as a view of the world and humanity's relationship to it involving natural forces only (and excluding spiritualism and superstition), from 1750. As a tendency in art and literature, "conformity to nature or reality, but without slavish fidelity to it," from 1850.