Old English lætra "slower," comparative of læt "late" (see late (adj.)). Meaning "belonging to a subsequent period" is from c. 1200. Sense of "that has been mentioned second of two or last" is first recorded 1550s.
In modern use the more common word is later, which is from mid-15c. and is perhaps a new formation or a variant of this word. Latter survives mostly in the phrase the latter, which, with the former is used to avoid repetition (but sometimes incorrectly, when more than two are involved).
1530s, "later in time," from Latin posterior "after, later, behind," comparative of posterus "coming after, subsequent," from post "after" (see post-). Meaning "situated behind, later in position than another or others" is from 1630s. Related: Posterial.
1846, later collateral form of pudgy (q.v.).
late 14c., posteriorite, "condition of occurring later in time, state of being subsequent," from Old French posteriorite (Modern French postériorité), from Medieval Latin posterioritatem (nominative posterioritas), from Latin posterior "later" (see posterior (adj.)).
in Homeric language, "a Greek," generally; later restricted to natives or inhabitants of Achaea, a region in the Peloponnesus. The Achaean League after c. 280 B.C.E. was a model for later federal republics. In Latin, Achaicus meant "a Greek."
1540s, "a drink, liquor," later "big or hearty drink of liquor" (1620s), of unknown origin.