1560s, "bestow lasting fame upon, exempt from oblivion," from immortal + -ize. Perhaps modeled on French immortaliser. The literal sense "endow with immortality" is from 1630s in English. Related: Immortalized; immortalizing.
late 14c., "deathless," from Latin immortalis "deathless, undying" (of gods), "imperishable, endless" (of fame, love, work, etc.), from assimilated form of in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + mortalis "mortal" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). In reference to fame, literature, etc., "unceasing, destined to endure forever, never to be forgotten, lasting a long time," attested from early 15c. (also in classical Latin). As a noun, "an immortal being," from 1680s.
word-forming element used to make verbs, Middle English -isen, from Old French -iser/-izer, from Late Latin -izare, from Greek -izein, a verb-forming element denoting the doing of the noun or adjective to which it is attached.
The variation of -ize and -ise began in Old French and Middle English, perhaps aided by a few words (such as surprise, see below) where the ending is French or Latin, not Greek. With the classical revival, English partially reverted to the correct Greek -z- spelling from late 16c. But the 1694 edition of the authoritative French Academy dictionary standardized the spellings as -s-, which influenced English.
In Britain, despite the opposition to it (at least formerly) of OED, Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Times of London, and Fowler, -ise remains dominant. Fowler thinks this is to avoid the difficulty of remembering the short list of common words not from Greek which must be spelled with an -s- (such as advertise, devise, surprise). American English has always favored -ize. The spelling variation involves about 200 English verbs.