"to determine beforehand, destine by previous decree," 1620s, originally theological, from pre- "before" + determine or else from Late Latin praedeterminare (Augustine). Related: Predetermined; predetermining; predeterminate.
word-forming element meaning "before," from Old French pre- and Medieval Latin pre-, both from Latin prae (adverb and preposition) "before in time or place," from PIE *peri- (source also of Oscan prai, Umbrian pre, Sanskrit pare "thereupon," Greek parai "at," Gaulish are- "at, before," Lithuanian prie "at," Old Church Slavonic pri "at," Gothic faura, Old English fore "before"), extended form of root *per- (1) "forward," hence "beyond, in front of, before."
The Latin word was active in forming verbs. Also see prae-. Sometimes in Middle English muddled with words in pro- or per-.
late 14c., determinen, "to settle, decide upon; state definitely; fix the bounds of; limit in time or extent," also "come to a firm decision or definite intention" (to do something), from Old French determiner (12c.) and directly from Latin determinare "to enclose, bound, set limits to," from de "off" (see de-) + terminare "to mark the end or boundary," from terminus "end, limit" (see terminus).
Meaning "render judgment" is from early 15c. Sense of "give direction or tendency to" is from early 15c. Meaning "to find (as the solution of a problem)" is from 1640s. Related: Determined; determining; determiner.