early 14c., condempnen "to blame, censure;" mid-14c., "pronounce judgment against," from Old French condamner, condemner "to condemn" (11c.) and directly from Latin condemnare, condempnare "to sentence, doom, blame, disapprove," from assimilated form of com-, here perhaps an intensive prefix (see com-), + damnare "to harm, damage" (see damn (v.)). Replaced Old English fordeman.
From late 14c. as "hold to be reprehensible or intolerable," also "afford occasion for condemnation, bear witness against." From 1705 as "adjudge or pronounce as forfeited" (as a prize of war, etc.); from 1833, American English, in the sense of "to judicially take (land, etc.) for potential public use." From 1745 as "judge or pronounce (a building, etc.) to be unfit for use or service." Related: Condemned; condemning.