late 14c., mincen, "to chop (meat, herbs, onions, etc.) in little pieces," from Old French mincier "make into small pieces," from Vulgar Latin *minutiare "make small," from Late Latin minutiæ "small bits," from Latin minutus "small" (from PIE root *mei- (2) "small").
From 1540s in reference to speech, "to utter primly or in a half-spoken way as affected delicacy, clip affectedly in imitation of elegance," of words or language, "to restrain in the interest of decorum," 1590s. The meaning "walk with short or precise steps or with affected nicety" is from 1560s. The etymological sense is "to make less, make small." Related: Minced; mincing.
"minced meat," 1850; see mincemeat. Mince-pie "pie made with minced meat, fruit, etc.," long associated in England with Christmas festivities, is attested from c. 1600; as rhyming slang for eye (n.) it is attested by 1857.
"affectedly dainty, simpering," 1520s, probably originally in reference to speech, when words were "clipped" to affect elegance; or in reference to walking with short steps; present-participle adjective from mince (v.). Related: Mincingly.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "small."
It forms all or part of: administer; administration; comminute; diminish; meiosis; Menshevik; menu; metier; mince; minestrone; minim; minimum; minister; ministration; ministry; minor; minuend; minuet; minus; minuscule; minute; minutia; Miocene; mis- (2); mite (n.2) "little bit;" mystery (n.2) "handicraft, trade, art;" nimiety.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit miyate "diminishes, declines;" Greek meion "less, smaller;" Latin minus, minor "smaller," minuere "to diminish, reduce, lessen;" Old English minsian "to diminish;" Russian men'she "less."
1560s, from French fricassée, noun use of fem. past participle of fricasser "mince and cook in sauce" (15c.), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps a compound from elements related to or altered by French frire "to fry" (see fry (v.)) and casser, quasser "to break, cut up" (see quash (v.)). As a verb, from 1650s.