late 14c., "clearly revealed," from Old French manifest "evident, palpable," (12c.), or directly from Latin manifestus "plainly apprehensible, clear, apparent, evident;" of offenses, "proved by direct evidence;" of offenders, "caught in the act," probably from manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + -festus, which apparently is identical to the second element of infest. De Vaan writes, "If manifestus may be interpreted as 'caught by hand', the meanings seem to point to 'grabbing' or 'attacking' for -festus." But he finds none of the proposed ulterior connections compelling, and concludes that, regarding infestus and manifestus, "maybe the two must be separated."
Other nations have tried to check ... the fulfillment of our manifest destiny to overspread the Continent allotted by Providence for the free development of our yearly multiplying millions. [John O'Sullivan (1813-1895), "U.S. Magazine & Democratic Review," July 1845]
The phrase apparently is O'Sullivan's coinage; the notion is as old as the republic.
"ship's cargo," 1706; see manifest (adj.). Earlier, "a public declaration" (c. 1600; compare manifesto), from French manifeste, verbal noun from manifester. Earlier still in English as "a manifestation" (1560s).
late 14c., "to spread" (one's fame), "to show plainly," from manifest (adj.) or else from Latin manifestare "to discover, disclose, betray" (see manifest (adj.)). Meaning "to display by actions" is from 1560s; reflexive sense, of diseases, etc., "to reveal as in operation" is from 1808. Related: Manifested; manifesting.
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