late 14c., "the art or process of sculpture, the act or art of carving or shaping figures and other objects in the round or in relief on more or less hard surfaces," from Latin sculptura "sculpture," from past participle stem of sculpere "to carve, engrave," a back-formation from compounds such as exculpere, from scalpere "to carve, cut" (from PIE root *skel- (1) "to cut"). The meaning "a work of carved art" is from 1610s.
1630s, "one who models in clay or wax, casts or strikes in bronze or other metal, or carves figures in stone," from Latin sculptor "one who cuts or carves," agent noun from sculpt-, past-participle stem of sculpere "to carve" (see sculpture). Formerly of broader application than in modern use. Fem. form sculptress is attested from 1660s.
"to cut, carve, engrave," 1826 (implied in sculpted), from French sculpter, from Latin sculpt-, past-participle stem of sculpere "to carve" (see sculpture). Related: Sculpting. The older verb form was sculpture (1640s), from the noun, also sculp (1530s), from Latin sculpere. Related: Sculptured.
It forms all or part of: coulter; cutlass; half; halve; scale (n.1) "skin plates on fish or snakes;" scale (n.2) "weighing instrument;" scalene; scallop; scalp; scalpel; school (n.2) "group of fish;" sculpture; shale; sheldrake; shelf; shell; shield; shoal (n.2) "large number;" skoal; skill.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin culter "knife," scalpere "to cut, scrape;" Old Church Slavonic skolika "mussel, shell," Russian skala "rind, bark," Lithuanian skelti "split," Old English scell "shell," scalu "drinking cup, bowl, scale of a balance."
early 15c. in astronomy, "outer sphere of the universe" (the primum mobile), from mobile (adj.); the artistic sense "abstract sculpture consisting of parts suspended so as to move," associated with Alexander Calder, is by 1939, perhaps a shortening of mobile sculpture (1936). Now-obsolete sense of "the common people, the rabble" (1670s, short for Latin mobile vulgus) led to mob (n.). Middle English had moble, moeble (mid-14c.) "movable goods, personal property," from Old French moble, meuble, from the Latin adjective, but in 16c. this was replaced by furniture.
1803, of language, "exclusion of admixture of any kind," often pejorative, "scrupulous affectation of rigid purity," from French purisme (see purist + -ism). As a movement in painting and sculpture that rejected cubism and returned to representation of the physical object, by 1921, with a capital P-.