"point or minute spot on a surface," Old English dott, once, "speck, head of a boil," perhaps related to Norwegian dot "lump, small knot," Dutch dot "knot, small bunch, wisp," Old High German tutta "nipple;" a word of uncertain etymology.
Known from a single source c. 1000; the word reappeared with modern meaning "mark" c. 1530; not common until 18c. Perhaps this is a different word imitative of "the mark of a mere touch with the pen" (Wedgwood). In music, the meaning "point indicating a note is to be lengthened by half" is by 1806. Morse telegraph sense is from 1838. On the dot "punctual" is 1909, in reference to a clock dial face. Dot-matrix in printing and screen display is attested by 1975.
1740, "mark with a dot or dots," from dot (n.). Sense of "mark or diversify with small, detached objects" is by 1818. Sense of "put a dot over (the letter i)" is by 1833. Related: Dotted; dotting. Dotted line is by 1690s.
updated on October 13, 2018