1650s, formerly also elastick, coined in French (1650s) as a scientific term to describe gases, from Modern Latin elasticus, from Greek elastos "ductile, flexible," related to elaunein "to strike, beat out," which is of uncertain origin; according to Watkins from an extended form of the PIE base *ele- "to go." Applied to solids from 1670s. Figurative use by 1859. The noun meaning "piece of elastic material," originally a cord or string woven with rubber, is from 1847, American English.
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