c. 1200, "piece of statuary; artificial representation that looks like a person or thing," from Old French image "image, likeness; figure, drawing, portrait; reflection; statue," earlier imagene (11c.), from Latin imaginem (nominative imago) "copy, imitation, likeness; statue, picture," also "phantom, ghost, apparition," figuratively "idea, appearance," from stem of imitari "to copy, imitate" (from PIE root *aim- "to copy").
Meaning "reflection in a mirror" is early 14c. The mental sense was in Latin, and appears in English late 14c. Sense of "public impression" is attested in isolated cases from 1908 but not in common use until its rise in the jargon of advertising and public relations, c. 1958.
To þe ymage of god he made hym [Genesis i.27, Wycliffite Bible, early version, 1382]
name of a movement in poetry that sought clarity of expression through use of precise visual images, "hard light, clear edges" [Pound], coined 1912 by Ezra Pound; see image (n.) + -ism. Related: Imagist.
—Say it, no ideas but in things—
nothing but the blank faces of the houses
and cylindrical trees
bent, forked by preconception and accident—
split, furrowed, creased, mottled, stained—
secret—into the body of the light!
[William Carlos Williams, from "Paterson"]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to copy."
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin imago "image," aemulus "emulous," imitari "to copy, portray, imitate;" Hittite himma- "imitation, substitute."
also ikon, 1570s, "image, figure, picture," also "statue," from Late Latin icon, from Greek eikon "likeness, image, portrait; image in a mirror; a semblance, phantom image;" in philosophy, "an image in the mind," related to eikenai "be like, look like," which is of uncertain origin. The specific Eastern Church sense is attested from 1833 in English. Computing sense first recorded 1982.
mid-13c., "image of a deity as an object of (pagan) worship," from Old French idole "idol, graven image, pagan god" (11c.), from Latin idolum "image (mental or physical), form," especially "apparition, ghost," but used in Church Latin for "false god, image of a pagan deity as an object of worship." This is from Greek eidolon "mental image, apparition, phantom," also "material image, statue," in Ecclesiastical Greek," a pagan idol," from eidos "form, shape; likeness, resemblance" (see -oid).
A Greek word for "image," used in Jewish and early Christian writers for "image of a false god," hence also "false god." The Germanic languages tended to form a word for it from the reverse direction, from "god" to "false god," hence "image of a false god" (compare Old English afgod, Danish afgud, Swedish avgud, Old High German abgot, compounds with af-/ab- "away, away from" (source of off) + god).
The older Greek senses sometimes have been used in English. Figurative sense of "something idolized" is first recorded 1560s (in Middle English the figurative sense was "someone who is false or untrustworthy"). Meaning "a person so adored, human object of adoring devotion" is from 1590s.