1835, "system for conveying words over distance by musical notes" (devised in 1828 by French composer Jean-François Sudré (1787-1862); each tone played over several octaves represented a letter of the alphabet), from French téléphone (c. 1830), from télé- "far" (see tele-) + phōnē "sound, voice," from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say." Sudré's system never proved practical. Also used of other apparatus early 19c., including "instrument similar to a foghorn for signaling from ship to ship" (1844). The electrical communication tool was first described in modern form by Philip Reis (1861); developed by Scottish-born inventor Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and so called by him from 1876.
by 1878 [Des Moines Register, May 16], colloquial shortening of telephone (n.), "generally applied to the receiver, but sometimes to the whole apparatus" [Century Dictionary, 1895]. Phone book "publication listing telephone numbers and their associated names" is by 1920; phone booth "small enclosure or stall provided with a public pay-telephone" is by 1906; phone bill "statement of charges for telephone service" is by 1901; phone number (short for telephone number) is by 1906.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "far" (in space or time). Some sources connect this root with *kwel- (1), forming words to do with turning, via the notion of "completion of a cycle."
It forms all or part of: paleo-; tele-; teleconference; telegony; telegraph; telegram; telekinesis; Telemachus; telemeter; telepathy; telephone; telescope; television.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit caramah "the last;" Greek tele "far off, afar, at or to a distance," palaios "old, ancient," palai "long ago, far back;" Breton pell "far off," Welsh pellaf "uttermost."
*bhā-; Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to speak, tell, say."
It forms all or part of: abandon; affable; anthem; antiphon; aphasia; aphonia; aphonic; apophasis; apophatic; ban (n.1) "proclamation or edict;" ban (v.); banal; bandit; banish; banlieue; banns (n.); bifarious; blame; blaspheme; blasphemy; boon (n.); cacophony; confess; contraband; defame; dysphemism; euphemism; euphony; fable; fabulous; fado; fairy; fame; famous; fandango; fatal; fate; fateful; fatuous; fay; gramophone; heterophemy; homophone; ineffable; infamous; infamy; infant; infantile; infantry; mauvais; megaphone; microphone; monophonic; nefandous; nefarious; phatic; -phone; phone (n.2) "elementary sound of a spoken language;" phoneme; phonetic; phonic; phonics; phono-; pheme; -phemia; Polyphemus; polyphony; preface; profess; profession; professional; professor; prophecy; prophet; prophetic; quadraphonic; symphony; telephone; xylophone.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek pheme "speech, voice, utterance, a speaking, talk," phōnē "voice, sound" of a human or animal, also "tone, voice, pronunciation, speech," phanai "to speak;" Sanskrit bhanati "speaks;" Latin fari "to say," fabula "narrative, account, tale, story," fama "talk, rumor, report; reputation, public opinion; renown, reputation;" Armenian ban, bay "word, term;" Old Church Slavonic bajati "to talk, tell;" Old English boian "to boast," ben "prayer, request;" Old Irish bann "law."