a Latin phrase meaning "mark well, observe particularly," 1721, from Latin nota, second person singular imperative of notare "to mark" (from nota "mark, sign, note, character, letter;" see note (n.)) + bene "well" (see bene-). Often abbreviated N.B.
c. 1300, "a song, music, melody; instrumental music; a bird-song; a musical note of a definite pitch," from Old French note and directly from Latin nota "letter, character, note," originally "a mark, sign, means of recognition," which traditionally has been connected to notus, past participle of noscere "to come to know," but de Vaan reports this is "impossible," and with no attractive alternative explanation, it is of unknown origin.
Meaning "notice, attention" is from early 14c.; that of "reputation, fame" is from late 14c. From late 14c. as "mark, sign, or token by which a thing may be known." From late 14c. as "a sign by which a musical tone is represented to the eye." Meaning "a brief written abstract of facts" is from 1540s; meaning "a short, informal written communication" is from 1590s. From 1550s as "a mark in the margin of a book calling attention to something in the text," hence "a statement subsidiary to the text adding or elucidating something." From 1680s as "a paper acknowledging a debts, etc." In perfumery, "a basic component of a fragrance which gives it its character," by 1905.
sometimes beni-, word-forming element meaning "well," from Latin bene (adv.) "well, in the right way, honorably, properly," from PIE *dwenelo-, suffixed (adverbial) form of root *deu- (2) "to do, perform; show favor, revere." Opposed to mal-. From the same source come Latin bonus "good," bellus "handsome, fine, pretty," and possibly beatus "blessed," beare "to make blessed."