late 13c., "place where streets or walls meet;" early 14c., "intersection of any two converging lines or surfaces; an angle," from Anglo-French cornere (Old French corner, corniere), from Old French corne "horn; corner," from Vulgar Latin *corna, from Latin cornua, plural of cornu "horn, hard growth on the head of many mammals," from PIE root *ker- (1) "horn; head."
Latin cornu was used of pointed or stiff things but not of corners, for which angulus was the word. Meaning "a region or district" is from late 14c.; the four corners of the known earth is from late 14c. Sense of "either of the places where the upper and lower eyelids meet" is from late 14c. Meaning "a small, secret, or retired place" is from late 14c.
In boxing, from 1853. In soccer, short for corner-kick, by 1882. Sense of "a monopolizing of the market supply of a stock or commodity" is from 1853. As an adjective, from 1530s. Corner-shop is from late 13c.
To turn the corner "change direction," literally or figuratively, is from 1680s. To be just around the corner in the extended sense of "about to happen" is by 1905. To cut corners is by 1847 as "pass round a corner or corners as closely as possible;" figurative use, in reference to an easy or economical but risky course of action, is by 1882.
late 14c., "to furnish with corners; bring to a point by convergence," from corner (n.). Meaning "to turn a corner," as in a race, is from 1860s. Meaning "drive or force (someone) into a corner," also figuratively, "force into a position where defeat or surrender is inevitable," is American English from 1824; commercial sense "monopolize the market supply of a stock or commodity" is from 1836. Related: Cornered; cornering.
updated on December 11, 2018