card (n.1)

early 15c., "a playing card," from Old French carte (14c.), from Medieval Latin carta/charta "a card, paper; a writing, a charter," from Latin charta "leaf of paper, a writing, tablet," from Greek khartēs "layer of papyrus," which is probably from Egyptian. Form influenced by Italian cognate carta "paper, leaf of paper." Compare chart (n.). The shift in English from -t to -d is unexplained.

Sense of "playing cards" also is oldest in French. Sense in English extended by 1590s to similar small, flat, stiff pieces of paper. As "small piece of cardboard upon which is written or printed the name, address, etc. of the person presenting it" is from 1795, visiting-cards for social calls, business-cards announcing one's profession. Meaning "printed ornamental greetings for special occasions" is from 1862.

Application to clever or original persons (1836, originally with an adjective, as in smart card) is from the playing-card sense, via expressions such as sure card "an expedient certain to attain an object" (c. 1560).

Card-sharper "professional cheat at cards" is from 1859. House of cards in the figurative sense "any insecure or flimsy scheme" is from 1640s, first attested in Milton, from children's play. To (figuratively) have a card up (one's) sleeve is from 1898. To play the _______ card (for political advantage) is from 1886, originally the Orange card, meaning "appeal to Northern Irish Protestant sentiment."

Cards are first mentioned in Spain in 1371, described in detail in Switzerland in 1377, and by 1380 reliably reported from places as far apart as Florence, Basle, Regensburg, Brabant, Paris, and Barcelona. References are also claimed for earlier dates, but these are relatively sparse and do not withstand scrutiny. [David Parlett, "A History of Card Games"]

card (v.1)

1540s, "to play cards" (now obsolete), from card (n.1). From 1925 as "to write (something) on a card for filing." Meaning "require (someone) to show an identification card" is from 1970s. Related: Carded; carding.

card (v.2)

"to comb wool," late 14c., from card (n.2) or else from Old French carder, from Old Provençal cardar "to card," from Vulgar Latin *caritare, from Latin carrere "to clean or comb with a card," perhaps from PIE root *kars- "to scrape" (see harsh). Related: Carded; carding.

card (n.2)

"implement or machine for combing, brush with wire teeth used in disentangling fibers for spinning," late 14c. (mid-14c. in surname Cardmaker), from Old French carde "card, teasel," from Old Provençal cardo or some other Romanic source (compare Spanish and Italian carda "thistle, tease, card," back-formation from cardar "to card" (see card (v.2)). The English word probably also comes via Anglo-Latin cardo, from Medieval Latin carda "a teasel," from Latin carduus.

Definitions of card
card (n.)
one of a set of small pieces of stiff paper marked in various ways and used for playing games or for telling fortunes;
he collected cards and traded them with the other boys
card (n.)
a card certifying the identity of the bearer;
he had to show his card to get in
Synonyms: identity card
card (n.)
a rectangular piece of stiff paper used to send messages (may have printed greetings or pictures);
they sent us a card from Miami
card (n.)
thin cardboard, usually rectangular;
card (n.)
a witty amusing person who makes jokes;
Synonyms: wag / wit
card (n.)
a sign posted in a public place as an advertisement;
Synonyms: poster / posting / placard / notice / bill
card (n.)
a printed or written greeting that is left to indicate that you have visited;
Synonyms: calling card / visiting card
card (n.)
(golf) a record of scores (as in golf);
you have to turn in your card to get a handicap
Synonyms: scorecard
card (n.)
a list of dishes available at a restaurant;
Synonyms: menu / bill of fare / carte du jour / carte
card (n.)
(baseball) a list of batters in the order in which they will bat;
the managers presented their cards to the umpire at home plate
Synonyms: batting order / lineup
card (n.)
a printed circuit that can be inserted into expansion slots in a computer to increase the computer's capabilities;
Synonyms: circuit board / circuit card / board / plug-in / add-in
card (v.)
separate the fibers of;
Synonyms: tease
card (v.)
ask someone for identification to determine whether he or she is old enough to consume liquor;
I was carded when I tried to buy a beer!