1620s, "of the taste of vinegar," from French acide (16c.) or directly from Latin acidus "sour, sharp, tart" (also figurative, "disagreeable," etc.), adjective of state from acere "to be sour, be sharp" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce").
Figurative use in English ("sour, sharp, biting") is from 1775; the word was applied to intense colors by 1916; an acid dye (1888) involves an acid bath. Acid rain "highly acidity in rain caused by atmospheric pollution" is recorded by 1859 in reference to England. Acid drop as a kind of hard sugar candy flavored with tartaric acid is by 1835, with drop (n.) in the "lozenge" sense.
Acid test is American English, 1881, in literal use a quick way to distinguish gold from similar metals by application of nitric acid. Fowler wrote (1920) that it was then in vogue in the figurative sense and "became familiar through a conspicuous use of it during the war by President Wilson."