1580s, "natural science, the science of the principles operative in organic nature," from physic in sense of "natural science." Also see -ics. Based on Latin physica (neuter plural), from Greek ta physika, literally "the natural things," title of Aristotle's treatise on nature. The current restricted sense of "science treating of properties of matter and energy" is from 1715.
Before the rise of modern science, physics was usually defined as the science of that which is movable, or the science of natural bodies. It was commonly made to include all natural science. At present, vital phenomena are not considered objects of physics, which is divided into general and applied physics. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
As we cannot use physician for a cultivator of physics, I have called him a physicist. We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist. [William Whewell, "The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences," London, 1840]
It was used earlier in the sense of "one versed in the medical sciences" (1716) but this was rare and by 19c. was obsolete.
"the science of the inward and essential nature of things," 1560s, plural of Middle English metaphisik, methaphesik (late 14c.), "branch of speculation which deals with the first causes of things," from Medieval Latin metaphysica, neuter plural of Medieval Greek (ta) metaphysika, from Greek ta meta ta physika "the (works) after the Physics," title of the 13 treatises which traditionally were arranged after those on physics and natural sciences in Aristotle's writings. See meta- + physics.
The name was given c.70 B.C.E. by Andronicus of Rhodes, and was a reference to the customary ordering of the books, but it was misinterpreted by Latin writers as meaning "the science of what is beyond the physical." The word originally was used in English in the singular; the plural form predominated after 17c., but singular made a comeback late 19c. in certain usages under German influence. From 17c. also sometimes "philosophy in general," especially "the philosophical study of the mind, psychology."
*bheuə-, also *bheu-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to be, exist, grow."
It forms all or part of: Bauhaus; be; beam; Boer; bondage; boodle; boom (n.1) "long pole;" boor; booth; bound (adj.2) "ready to go;" bower; bowery; build; bumpkin; busk; bustle (v.) "be active;" byre; bylaw; Eisteddfod; Euphues; fiat; forebear; future; husband; imp; Monophysite; neighbor; neophyte; phyletic; phylo-; phylum; phylogeny; physic; physico-; physics; physio-; physique; -phyte; phyto-; symphysis.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit bhavah "becoming," bhavati "becomes, happens," bhumih "earth, world;" Greek phyein "to bring forth, make grow," phytos, phyton "a plant," physis "growth, nature," phylon "tribe, class, race," phyle "tribe, clan;" Old English beon "be, exist, come to be, become, happen;" Old Church Slavonic byti "be," Greek phu- "become," Old Irish bi'u "I am," Lithuanian būti "to be," Russian byt' "to be."