1786 as a military word, from French déployer "unroll, unfold," from Old French desploiier "unfold," from Latin displicare "unfold, scatter," from dis- (see dis-) + plicare "to fold" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait"). "In its AFr. form regularly adopted in ME as desplay" [OED]. Related: Deployed; deploying.
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