early 15c., "one and indivisible, inseparable" (with reference to the Trinity), from Medieval Latin individualis, from Latin individuus "indivisible," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + dividuus "divisible," from dividere "divide" (see divide (v.)). Original sense now obsolete; the word was not common before c. 1600 and the 15c. example might be an outlier. Sense of "single, separate, of but one person or thing" is from 1610s; meaning "intended for one person" is from 1889.
Individual views a person as standing alone, or persons as standing separately before the mind: as, the rights of the individual; the rights of individuals: it is incorrect to use individual for person unemphatically ; as, there were several individuals in the room. [Century Dictionary]
1640s, "the making of distinctions, act of observing or marking a difference," from Late Latin discriminationem (nominative discriminatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of discriminare "to divide, separate" (see discriminate (v.)). Sense of "making invidious distinctions prejudicial to a class of persons" (usually based on race or color) is from 1866 in American English in the language of Reconstruction. Meaning "discernment" is from 1814.
It especially annoys me when racists are accused of 'discrimination.' The ability to discriminate is a precious facility; by judging all members of one 'race' to be the same, the racist precisely shows himself incapable of discrimination. [Christopher Hitchens, "Letters to a Young Contrarian"]
"single object or thing," c. 1600, from individual (adj.). Meaning "a single human being" (as opposed to a group, etc.) is from 1640s. Colloquial sense of "person" is attested from 1742. Latin individuum as a noun meant "an atom, indivisible particle," and in Middle English individuum was used in sense of "individual member of a species" (early 15c.).
1620s, from Medieval Latin individuationem (nominative individuatio), noun of action from past participle stem of individuare "to make individual," from Latin individuus "individual" (see individual (adj.)). Psychological sense is from 1909.
1610s, from Medieval Latin individuatus, past participle of individuare "make individual," from Latin individuus "individual" (see individual (adj.)). Perhaps modeled on obsolete French individuer. Related: Individuated; individuating.