1769, originally in horse-racing, referring to races in which bigger horses were given more weight to carry, lighter ones less; from give (v.) + take (v.). General sense attested by 1778. Give and take had been paired in expressions involving mutual exchange from c. 1500. Give or take as an indication of approximation is from 1958.
Entries linking to give-and-take
Old English giefan (West Saxon) "to give, bestow, deliver to another; allot, grant; commit, devote, entrust," class V strong verb (past tense geaf, past participle giefen), from Proto-Germanic *geban (source also of Old Frisian jeva, Middle Dutch gheven, Dutch geven, Old High German geban, German geben, Gothic giban), from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive." It became yiven in Middle English, but changed to guttural "g" by influence of Old Norse gefa "to give," Old Danish givæ.
Meaning "to yield to pressure" is from 1570s. Give in "yield" is from 1610s; give out is mid-14c. as "publish, announce;" meaning "run out, break down" is from 1520s. Give up "surrender, resign, quit" is mid-12c. To give (someone) a cold seems to reflect the old belief that one could be cured of disease by deliberately infecting others. What gives? "what is happening?" is attested from 1940. To not give a (some thing regarded as trivial and valueless) is from c. 1300 (early examples were a straw, a grass, a mite).
late Old English tacan "to take, seize," from a Scandinavian source (such as Old Norse taka "take, grasp, lay hold," past tense tok, past participle tekinn; Swedish ta, past participle tagit), from Proto-Germanic *takan- (source also of Middle Low German tacken, Middle Dutch taken, Gothic tekan "to touch"), from Germanic root *tak- "to take," of uncertain origin, perhaps originally meaning "to touch."
As the principal verb for "to take," it gradually replaced Middle English nimen, from Old English niman, from the usual West Germanic verb, *nemanan (source of German nehmen, Dutch nemen; see nimble).
OED calls take "one of the elemental words of the language;" take up alone has 55 varieties of meaning in that dictionary's 2nd print edition. Basic sense is "to lay hold of," which evolved to "accept, receive" (as in take my advice) c. 1200; "absorb" (take a punch) c. 1200; "choose, select" (take the high road) late 13c.; "to make, obtain" (take a shower) late 14c.; "to become affected by" (take sick) c. 1300.
Take five is 1929, from the approximate time it takes to smoke a cigarette. Take it easy is recorded by 1880; take the plunge "act decisively" is from 1876; take the rap "accept (undeserved) punishment" is from 1930. Phrase take it or leave it is recorded from 1897. To take (something) on "begin to do" is from late 12c. To take it out on (someone or something) "vent one's anger on other than what caused it" is by 1840.