"to divide into small portions," early 15c., parcelen (with out), from parcel (n.). Related: Parceled; parcelled; parceling; parcelling.
late 14c., "a portion or part of something" (a sense preserved in the verb and in the phrase parcel of land, which is from c. 1400), from Old French parcele "small piece, particle, parcel," and directly from Medieval Latin parcella, from Vulgar Latin *particella, extended form (via a diminutive suffix, but not necessarily implying smallness) of Latin particula "small part, little bit," itself a diminutive of pars (genitive partis) "a part, piece, fraction" (from PIE root *pere- (2) "to grant, allot").
Meaning "a package" is recorded from 1640s from the earlier sense of "a quantity of goods in a package" (mid-15c.), which is from the late 14c. sense of "an amount or quantity of anything." The expression part and parcel (early 15c.) also preserves the older sense; both words mean the same, the multiplicity is for emphasis. In some old and technical senses, parcel is used as an adjective or adverb meaning "in part, partially, to some degree." Parcel post as a service to deliver packages (later a branch of the postal service) is by 1790.
a variant of parcel (n.) attested since late 14c.; its use in colloquial American English to mean "a large group or number" of persons or things is attested from 1835.
mid-15c., paket, "a little package or parcel" (late 12c. as a surname), "in earliest use applied to a parcel of letters or dispatches, and esp. to the State parcel or 'mail' of dispatches to and from foreign countries" [OED], from Middle English pak "bundle" (see pack (n.)) + diminutive suffix -et; perhaps modeled on Anglo-French pacquet (Old French pacquet), which ultimately is a diminutive of Middle Dutch pak or some other continental Germanic word cognate with the English one. A packet boat (1640s) originally was one that carried mails from country to country or port to port, then generally a vessel starting at regular dates and appointed times. In data transmission, packet-switching is attested from 1971.
"act of cutting down and clearing away the forests of a region or tract," 1870, noun of action from deforest (q.v.). Earlier was deforesting (1530s) which was a legal term for the change in definition of a parcel of land from "forest" to something else.