1550s, "to appropriate for or adjudge to be forfeit to the treasury," in reference to the goods or estate of a traitor or criminal, from Latin confiscatus, past participle of confiscare, from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + fiscus "public treasury," originally "money basket, wicker basket" (see fiscal). Caxton (late 15c.) Englished French confisquer as confisk. The broader sense "take from another by or as if by authority" is attested by 1819. Related: Confiscated; confiscating.
updated on February 28, 2018