early 15c., "of or pertaining to tools and their use," from mechanic (adj.) + -al (1). By 1570s as "of or pertaining to machines and their use." Of persons or human actions, "resembling machines, automatic, lacking spirit or spontaneity," from c. 1600. Scientific sense of "of or pertaining to the material forces of nature acting on inanimate bodies," from 1620s. Related: Mechanically. Mechanical-minded is recorded from 1820.