Figurative use, "to nullify (an obligation, etc.)" is from mid-15c. Related: Canceled (also cancelled); cancelling.
c. 1300, "enclosed space in a church around the altar," from Old French chancel, from Late Latin cancellus "lattice," from Latin cancelli (plural) "grating, bars" (see cancel); sense extended in Late Latin from the lattice-work that separated the choir from the nave in a church to the space itself.
1680s, "large box of wood, slats, etc., used for packing and transporting," earlier "hurdle, grillwork" (late 14c.), from Latin cratis "wickerwork, lattice, kitchen-rack," or from Dutch krat "basket;" both perhaps from a common PIE root *kert- "to turn, entwine" (see hurdle (n.)).
late 14c., "lattice, grating," from Old French trelis, trellis "trellis, fence," originally "sackcloth," from Vulgar Latin *trilicius, from Latin trilicis, genitive of trilix "having three threads, triple-twilled," from tri- (see tri-) + licium "thread," a word of unknown etymology.
Sense extended in Old French to things "woven" of iron, etc., which brought on influence of Old French treille "vine trellis," perhaps from Latin trichila "bower, arbor," which is apparently from Latin triclinium "couch extending round three sides of a table" (for reclining on at meals; from PIE root *klei- "to lean"). Meaning "lattice used to support growing vines" is from 1510s. As a verb, c. 1400. Related: Trellised.
early 12c., from Old French chancelier (12c.), from Late Latin cancellarius "keeper of the barrier, secretary, usher of a law court," so called because he worked behind a lattice (Latin cancellus) at a basilica or law court (see chancel).
In the Roman Empire, a sort of court usher who stood at the latticed railing enclosing the judgment seat to keep the crowd out and admit those entitled to enter. The post gradually gained importance in the Western kingdoms as an intermediary between the petitioners and the judges as a notary or scribe. In England eventually he prepared all important crown documents and became keeper of the great seal and highest judicial officer of the crown. A variant form, canceler, existed in Old English, from Old North French, but was replaced by this central French form.