late 14c., chilindre, "portable sundial in the shape of a cylinder with a conical top," from Old French cylindre (14c.) and directly from Latin cylindrus "roller, cylinder," from Greek kylindros "a cylinder, roller, roll," from kylindein "to roll," which is of unknown origin.
From 1560s as "a solid figure which may be conceived as generated by the revolution of a rectangle about one of its sides." From 1690s as "chamber of a steam engine in which the force of the steam is exerted on the piston." By 1849 as "part of a revolver which contains the chamber for the cartridges." By 1878 as "cylindrical record for a phonograph."