1580s, "the whole world, cosmos, the totality of existing things," from Old French univers (12c.), from Latin universum "all things, everybody, all people, the whole world," noun use of neuter of adjective universus "all together, all in one, whole, entire, relating to all," literally "turned into one," from unus "one" (from PIE root *oi-no- "one, unique") + versus, past participle of vertere "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend").
late 14c., "pertaining to the whole of something specified; occurring everywhere," from Old French universel "general, universal" (12c.), from Latin universalis "of or belonging to all," from universus "all together, whole, entire" (see universe). In mechanics, a universal joint (1670s) is one which allows free movement in any direction. Universal product code is recorded from 1974.
c. 1300, "institution of higher learning," also "body of persons constituting a university," from Anglo-French université, Old French universite "universality; academic community" (13c.), from Medieval Latin universitatem (nominative universitas), "the whole, aggregate," in Late Latin "corporation, society," from universus "whole, entire" (see universe). In the academic sense, a shortening of universitas magistrorum et scholarium "community of masters and scholars;" superseded studium as the word for this. The Latin word also is the source of Spanish universidad, German universität, Russian universitet, etc.
1895, William James's coinage, an alternative to universe meant to convey absence of order and unity. See multi- + universe.
But those times are past; and we of the nineteenth century, with our evolutionary theories and our mechanical philosophies, already know nature too impartially and too well to worship unreservedly any god of whose character she can be an adequate expression. Truly all we know of good and beauty proceeds from nature, but none the less so all we know of evil. Visible nature is all plasticity and indifference, a moral multiverse, as one might call it, and not a moral universe. [William James, "Is Life Worth Living?" address to the Young Men's Christian Association of Harvard University, May 1895]
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "one, unique."
It forms all or part of: a (1) indefinite article; alone; an; Angus; anon; atone; any; eleven; inch (n.1) "linear measure, one-twelfth of a foot;" lone; lonely; non-; none; null; once; one; ounce (n.1) unit of weight; quincunx; triune; unanimous; unary; une; uni-; Uniate; unilateral; uncial; unicorn; union; unique; unison; unite; unity; universal; universe; university; zollverein.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Greek oinos "ace (on dice);" Latin unus "one;" Old Persian aivam; Old Church Slavonic -inu, ino-; Lithuanian vienas; Old Irish oin; Breton un "one;" Old English an, German ein, Gothic ains "one."
Proto-Indo-European root forming words meaning "to turn, bend."
It forms all or part of: adverse; anniversary; avert; awry; controversy; converge; converse (adj.) "exact opposite;" convert; diverge; divert; evert; extroversion; extrovert; gaiter; introrse; introvert; invert; inward; malversation; obverse; peevish; pervert; prose; raphe; reverberate; revert; rhabdomancy; rhapsody; rhombus; ribald; sinistrorse; stalwart; subvert; tergiversate; transverse; universe; verbena; verge (v.1) "tend, incline;" vermeil; vermicelli; vermicular; vermiform; vermin; versatile; verse (n.) "poetry;" version; verst; versus; vertebra; vertex; vertigo; vervain; vortex; -ward; warp; weird; worm; worry; worth (adj.) "significant, valuable, of value;" worth (v.) "to come to be;" wrangle; wrap; wrath; wreath; wrench; wrest; wrestle; wriggle; wring; wrinkle; wrist; writhe; wrong; wroth; wry.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit vartate "turns round, rolls;" Avestan varet- "to turn;" Hittite hurki- "wheel;" Greek rhatane "stirrer, ladle;" Latin vertere (frequentative versare) "to turn, turn back, be turned; convert, transform, translate; be changed," versus "turned toward or against;" Old Church Slavonic vrŭteti "to turn, roll," Russian vreteno "spindle, distaff;" Lithuanian verčiu, versti "to turn;" German werden, Old English weorðan "to become;" Old English -weard "toward," originally "turned toward," weorthan "to befall," wyrd "fate, destiny," literally "what befalls one;" Welsh gwerthyd "spindle, distaff;" Old Irish frith "against."
1690s, "a theory of the creation;" 1766 as "the creation of the universe;" 1777 as "science of the origin of the universe," from Latinized form of Greek kosmogonia "creation of the world," from kosmos "world, universe" (see cosmos) + -gonia "a begetting," from gonos "birth" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). Related: Cosmogonal; cosmogonic; cosmogonist.
great tree of the universe, 1770, from Old Norse ygdrasill, apparently from Yggr, a name of Odin + drasill "horse."