mid-14c., exciten, "to move, stir up, instigate," from Old French esciter (12c.) or directly from Latin excitare "rouse, call out, summon forth, produce," frequentative of exciere "call forth, instigate," from ex "out" (see ex-) + ciere "set in motion, call" (from PIE root *keie- "to set in motion"). Of feelings, "to stir up, rouse," from late 14c. Of bodily organs or tissues, from 1831. Sense of "rouse the emotions of, emotionally agitate" is attested from 1821.