1560s, "to stand in front of, be facing," from Middle French confronter (15c.), from Medieval Latin confrontare "assign limits to; adjoin," and confrontari "be contiguous to," from assimilated form of Latin com "with, together" (see con-) + frontem (nominative frons) "forehead" (see front (n.)).
Sense of "to face in defiance or hostility, stand in direct opposition to" is from 1580s. Transitive sense of "bring face to face" (with another, the evidence, etc.) is from 1620s. Related: Confronted; confronting.