Etymology
Advertisement
taste (n.)

early 14c., "act of tasting," from Old French tast "sense of touch" (Modern French tât), from taster (see taste (v.)). From late 14c. as "a small portion given;" also "faculty or sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned;" also "savor, sapidity, flavor."

Meaning "aesthetic judgment, faculty of discerning and appreciating what is excellent" is first attested 1670s (compare French goût, German geschmack, Russian vkus, etc.).

Of all the five senses, 'taste' is the one most closely associated with fine discrimination, hence the familiar secondary uses of words for 'taste, good taste' with reference to aesthetic appreciation. [Buck]
Taste is active, deciding, choosing, changing, arranging, etc.; sensibility is passive, the power to feel, susceptibility of impression, as from the beautiful. [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
taste (v.)

c. 1300, "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste, sample by mouth; enjoy" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch, pat, stroke" (12c., Modern French tâter), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration (perhaps by influence of gustare) of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax (v.)). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c. 1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (v.3) in this sense). Another PIE root in this sense was *geus- "to taste; to choose."

The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]

Sense of "to know by experience" is from 1520s. Related: Tasted; tasting. Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.

Related entries & more 
tasty (adj.)
1610s, "having agreeable flavor, palatable," from taste (n.) + -y (2); in late 18c. it also could mean "tasteful, elegant" (from the secondary sense of taste (n.)). Related: Tastiness.
Related entries & more 
foretaste (n.)
early 15c., from fore- + taste (n.). As a verb, from mid-15c.
Related entries & more 
tasteful (adj.)
1610s, "having an agreeable taste;" from taste + -ful. From 1756 as "having or showing good taste." Related: Tastefully; tastefulness.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
tasteless (adj.)
1590s, "unable to taste;" c. 1600, "uninteresting, insipid" (figurative); 1610s, "having no taste;" 1670s, "tactless;" from taste (n.) + -less. Related: Tastelessly; tastelessness.
Related entries & more 
distaste (n.)

"want of taste or liking (for something)," 1590s, from dis- + taste (n.). Perhaps a nativizing of French desgoust or Italian disgusto, or from the obsolete verb distaste "to disrelish, dislike" (1580s).

Related entries & more 
*tag- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to touch, handle," with figurative extensions ("border on; taste, partake of; strike, hit; affect, impress; trick, cheat; mention, speak of").

It forms all or part of: attain; contact; contaminate; entire; intact; integer; integrate; integrity; noli me tangere; tact; tactics; tactile; tangent; tangible; task; taste; tax; taxis.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin tangere "to touch," taxare "to touch, assess," tactus "touch," integer "intact, whole, complete, perfect; honest;" Greek tassein "to arrange," tetagon "having seized;" Old English þaccian "stroke, strike gently."
Related entries & more 
gustatory (adj.)
"of or pertaining to tasting," 1680s, from Latin gustatus "sense of taste; a taste" (noun use of past participle of gustare "to taste;" from PIE root *geus- "to taste; to choose") + -ory. Gustative is from 1610s.
Related entries & more 
smack (v.3)
mid-13c., "to smell (something"); mid-14c., "to taste (something), perceive by taste" (transitive); late 14c. "to have a taste, taste of" (intransitive), from smack (n.1). Compare Old English smæccan "to taste," Old Frisian smakia Middle Dutch smaecken, Old High German smakken "have a savor, scent, or taste," German schmecken "taste, try, smell, perceive." Sometimes also smatch. Now mainly in verbal figurative use smacks of ... (first attested 1590s). "Commonly but erroneously regarded as identical with [smack (n.2)], as if 'taste' proceeds from 'smacking the lips.'" [Century Dictionary]
Related entries & more