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Old English full "containing all that can be received; having eaten or drunk to repletion; filled; perfect, entire, utter," from Proto-Germanic *fullaz "full" (source also of Old Saxon full, Old Frisian ful, Dutch vol, Old High German fol, German voll, Old Norse fullr, Gothic fulls), from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill." Related: Fuller; fullest.
The adverb is Old English ful "very, fully, entirely, completely" and was common in Middle English (full well, full many, etc.); sense of "quite, exactly, precisely" is from 1580s. Full moon, one with its whole disc illuminated, was Old English fulles monan; first record of full-blood in reference to racial purity is from 1812. Full house is 1710 in the theatrical sense, 1887 in the poker sense (three of a kind and a pair, earlier full-hand, 1850). Full-dress (adj.) "appropriate to a formal occasion" is from 1761, from the noun phrase.
Figurative sense of "the distance one goes, extremity to which something is carried" is from 1690s. Phrase at length "to full extent" is attested from c. 1500. As "the length of a swimming pool," 1903. From the notion of "a piece or portion of the extent of anything" come the theater slang sense "a 42-line portion of an actor's part" (1736) and the sporting sense "the length of a horse, car, etc. in a race" used as a unit of measure (1650s).
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