late 15c., "person appointed and sent by another or others with power to transact business as a representative," from the past-participle adjective (early 15c.), from Old French delegat or directly from Latin delegatus, past participle of delegare "to send as a representative," from de- "from, away" (see de-) + legare "send with a commission," possibly literally "engage by contract" and related to lex (genitive legis) "contract, law," from PIE root *leg- (1) "to collect, gather."
Sense of "person sent with representative powers to a convention, conference, etc." is from c. 1600. In U.S., "person elected or appointed to represent a territory in Congress," by 1825.