late 14c., construccioun, "act of construing; manner of understanding the arrangement of words in translation" (a sense now obsolete), from Latin constructionem (nominative constructio) "a putting or placing together, a building," noun of action from past-participle stem of construere "to pile up together, accumulate; build, make, erect," from assimilated form of com "with, together" (see con-) + struere "to pile up" (from PIE *streu-, extended form of root *stere- "to spread").
The oldest sense in English goes with construe, and led to the meanings "the construing, explaining, or interpreting of a text" (late 15c.) and "explanation of the words of a legal document" which endures in parliamentary language ("What construction do you put on this clause?"); also compare constructionist.
From early 15c. as "act of building or making;" 1707 as "way or form in which a thing is built or made;" 1796 as "that which is constructed, a structure." Related: Constructional; constructionally.
updated on March 11, 2018