"tool with a beveled or sloping cutting edge at one end, used for paring, splitting, gouging, or cutting out," early 14c., from Anglo-French cisel, Old French cisel "chisel," in plural, "scissors, shears" (12c., Modern French ciseau), from Vulgar Latin *cisellum "cutting tool," from Latin caesellum, diminutive of caesus, past participle of caedere "to cut" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike"). Related: Chiseled; chiseling.
c. 1500, "to break, cut, gouge, etc. with a chisel," from chisel (n.). Slang sense of "to cheat, defraud" is first recorded in 1808 as chizzel; origin and connection to the older word are obscure (but compare slang sense of gouge; perhaps the sense is "to cut close" as in a bargain). Related: Chiseled; chiseling.
updated on November 13, 2017