Entries linking to boardroom
"piece of timber sawn flat and thin, longer than it is wide, wider than it is thick, narrower than a plank;" Old English bord "a plank, flat surface," from Proto-Germanic *burdam (source also of Old Norse borð "plank," Dutch bord "board," Gothic fotu-baurd "foot-stool," German Brett "plank"), perhaps from a PIE verb meaning "to cut." See also board (n.2), with which this is so confused as practically to form one word (if indeed they were not the same word all along).
In late Old English or early Middle English the sense was extended to include "table;" hence the transferred meaning "food" (early 14c.), as "that which is served upon a table," especially "daily meals provided at a place of lodging" (late 14c.). Compare boarder, boarding, and Old Norse borð, which also had a secondary sense of "table" and an extended sense "maintenance at table." Hence also above board "honest, open" (1610s; compare modern under the table "dishonest").
A further extension was to "table where council is held" (1570s), from whence the word was transferred to "leadership council, persons having the management of some public or private concern" (1610s), as in board of directors (1712).
"Bow to the board," said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two or three tears that were lingering in his eyes; and seeing no board but the table, fortunately bowed to that.
The meaning "table upon which public notices are written" is from mid-14c. The meaning "table upon which a game is played" is from late 14c. The sense of "thick, stiff paper" is from 1530s. Boards "stage of a theater" is from 1768.
Middle English roum, from Old English rum "space, extent; sufficient space, fit occasion (to do something)," from Proto-Germanic *ruman (source also of Old Norse, Old Saxon, Old High German, Gothic rum, German Raum "space," Dutch ruim "hold of a ship, nave"), nouns formed from Germanic adjective *ruma- "roomy, spacious," from PIE root *reue- (1) "to open; space" (source also of Avestan ravah- "space," Latin rus "open country," Old Irish roi, roe "plain field," Old Church Slavonic ravinu "level," Russian ravnina "a plain").
Old English also had a frequent adjective rum "roomy, wide, long, spacious," also an adverb, rumlice "bigly, corpulently" (Middle English roumli).
The meaning "chamber, cabin" is recorded by early 14c. as a nautical term; applied by mid-15c. to interior division of a building separated by walls or partitions; the Old English word for this was cofa, ancestor of cove. The sense of "persons assembled in a room" is by 1712.
Make room "open a passage, make way" is from mid-15c. Room-service is attested from 1913; room-temperature, comfortable for the occupants of a room, is so called from 1879. Roomth "sufficient space" (1530s, with -th (2)) now is obsolete.
updated on October 18, 2022