1650s, intransitive, "establish oneself in a place, settle, adopt a fixed residence," from Latin locatus, past participle of locare "to place, put, set, dispose, arrange," from locus "a place" (see locus).
Transitive sense of "to fix (something) in a place, settle or establish (something) in a particular spot" is from 1739, American English, originally of land surveys. And via the notion of "mark the limits of" (a parcel of land) the sense of the verb extended to "establish (something) in a place" (1807) and "find out the exact place of" (1882, American English). Related: Located; locating.
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