Old English landmearc "object set up to mark the boundaries of a kingdom, estate, etc.," from land (n.) + mearc in its sense "object which marks a boundary or limit" (see mark (n.1)). General sense of "conspicuous object which, by its known position, serves as a guide to a traveler," originally especially an object that can be seen from sea, is from 1560s. Modern figurative sense of "event, etc., considered a high point in history" is from 1859.
Entries linking to landmark
Old English lond, land, "ground, soil," also "definite portion of the earth's surface, home region of a person or a people, territory marked by political boundaries," from Proto-Germanic *landja- (source also of Old Norse, Old Frisian Dutch, Gothic land, German Land), perhaps from PIE *lendh- (2) "land, open land, heath" (source also of Old Irish land, Middle Welsh llan "an open space," Welsh llan "enclosure, church," Breton lann "heath," source of French lande; Old Church Slavonic ledina "waste land, heath," Czech lada "fallow land"). But Boutkan finds no IE etymology and suspects a substratum word in Germanic,
Etymological evidence and Gothic use indicates the original Germanic sense was "a definite portion of the earth's surface owned by an individual or home of a nation." The meaning was early extended to "solid surface of the earth," a sense which once had belonged to the ancestor of Modern English earth (n.). Original senses of land in English now tend to go with country. To take the lay of the land is a nautical expression. In the American English exclamation land's sakes (1846) land is a euphemism for Lord.
"trace, impression," Old English mearc (West Saxon), merc (Mercian) "boundary, limit; sign, landmark," from Proto-Germanic *markō (source also of Old Norse merki "boundary, sign," mörk "forest," which often marked a frontier; Old Frisian merke, Gothic marka "boundary, frontier," Dutch merk "mark, brand," German Mark "boundary, boundary land"), from PIE root *merg- "boundary, border." Influenced by, and partly from, Scandinavian cognates. The Germanic word was borrowed widely and early in Romanic (compare marque; march (n.2), marquis).
The primary sense "boundary" had evolved by Old English through "pillar, post, etc. as a sign of a boundary," through "a sign in general," then to "impression or trace forming a sign." Meaning "any visible trace or impression" is recorded by c. 1200. Meaning "a cross or other character made by an illiterate person as a signature" is from late Old English. Sense of "line drawn to indicate the starting point of a race" (as in on your marks..., which is by 1890) is attested by 1887.
The Middle English sense of "target" (c. 1200) is the notion in marksman and slang sense "victim of a swindle" (1883). The notion of "sign, token" is behind the meaning "a characteristic property, a distinctive feature" (1520s), also that of "numerical award given by a teacher" (by 1829). To make (one's) mark "attain distinction" is by 1847.
In medieval England and in Germany, "a tract of land held in common by a community," hence Mark of Brandenburg, etc.
It forms all or part of: Cymric; demarcation; Denmark; emarginate; landmark; march (v.) "walk with regular tread;" march (n.2) "boundary;" marchioness; margin; margrave; mark (n.1) "trace, impression;" mark (n.2) "unit of money or weight;" marque; marquee; marquetry; marquis; remark; remarkable.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin margo "margin;" Avestan mareza- "border;" Old Irish mruig, Irish bruig "borderland," Welsh bro "district;" Old English mearc "boundary, sign, limit, mark," Gothic marka "boundary, frontier."
updated on November 25, 2018
the church steeple provided a convenient landmark