c. 1600 (Shakespeare), "an indirect suggestion intended to be caught by the knowing," apparently from obsolete hent, from Middle English hinten "to tell, inform" (c. 1400), from Old English hentan "to seize," from Proto-Germanic *hantijan (source also of Gothic hinþan "to seize"), related to hunt (v.). OED dates the sense "small piece of practical information" to 1777.
1640s, "suggest in an indirect manner," from hint (n.). Related: Hinted; hinting.
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