1740, Latin, literally "in its (original) place or position," from ablative of situs "site" (see site (n.)).
"ascertaining of the position of a ship by measurement of the distance run" (without observation of heavenly bodies), 1610s, perhaps from nautical abbreviation ded. ("deduced") in log books, but it also fits dead (adj.) in the sense of "unrelieved, absolute."
"position from which a thing is or is supposed to be viewed," 1727, translating French point de vue, a loan-translation of Latin punctum visus. Figurative use "state of mind, predisposition (conscious or not)" is from 1760. The Latin phrase was translated into German as Gesichtspunkt.
"one who leads a military patrol in formation in a jungle, etc.," 1944, said to be from point (n.) in military sense of "small leading party of an advance guard" (1580s) + man (n.). A more literal sense also is possible. Point (n.) in U.S. also meant "position at the front of a herd of cattle," and pointman in this sense is attested by 1903.
c. 1600, Latin, literally "to a man," from ad "to" (see ad-) + hominem, accusative of homo "man" (see homunculus). Hence, "to the interests and passions of the person." Originally an argument or appeal to the known preferences or principles of the person addressed, rather than to abstract truth or logic.
Aristotle (Topics, viii 11) remarks that it is sometimes necessary to refute the disputant rather than his position, and some medieval logicians taught that refutation was of two kinds, solutio recta and solutio ad hominem, the latter being imperfect or fallacious refutation. [Century Dictionary]
also back-seat, 1832, originally of coaches, from back (adj.) + seat (n.). Used figuratively for "less or least prominent position" by 1868. Back-seat driver "passenger who gives the driver unwanted advice" is attested by 1923.
You know him. The one who sits on the back seat and tells the driver what to do. He issues a lot of instructions, gives advice, offers no end of criticism and doesn't do a bit of work. ["The Back Seat Driver," Wisconsin Congregational Church Life, May 1923]
to win something hands down (1855) is from horse racing, from a jockey's gesture of letting the reins go loose in an easy victory.
The Two Thousand Guinea Stakes was not the best contested one that it has been our fortune to assist at. ... [T]hey were won by Meteor, with Scott for his rider; who went by the post with his hands down, the easiest of all easy half-lengths. Wiseacre certainly did the best in his power to spoil his position, and Misdeal was at one time a little vexatious. [The Sportsman, report from April 26, 1840]
Ancient Greek had akoniti "without a struggle, easily," from akonitos (adj.), literally "without dust," specifically "without the dust of the arena."
coined 1931 by James Truslow Adams (1878-1949), U.S. writer and popular historian (unrelated to the Massachusetts Adamses), in "Epic of America."
[The American Dream is] that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position. [Adams]
Others have used the term as they will.