late 14c., "have a strong effect on the mind or heart, to stamp deeply in the mind," from Latin impressus, past participle of imprimere "press into or upon, stamp," also figurative, from assimilated form of in- "into, in, on, upon" (from PIE root *en "in") + premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress" (from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike"). Literal sense of "to apply with pressure, make a permanent image in, indent, imprint" is from early 15c. in English. Related: Impressed; impressing.
"act of impressing" (1590s), also "characteristic mark" (1580s), from impress (v.1). From 1620s as "badge worn by nobility or their retainers," from Italian impresa; earlier in English in this sense as impreso, imprese (1580s).
updated on October 19, 2017