c. 1300, "impression, mark" (as by a stamp or seal), from Old French preinte "impression," noun use of fem. past participle of preindre "to press, crush," altered from prembre, from Latin premere "to press, hold fast, cover, crowd, compress" (from PIE root *per- (4) "to strike"). The Old French word also was borrowed into Middle Dutch (prente, Dutch prent) and other Germanic languages.
Meaning "printed lettering" is from 1620s; print-hand "print-like handwriting" is from 1658. Sense of "picture or design from a block or plate" is first attested 1660s. Meaning "piece of printed cloth" is from 1756. In Middle English, stigmata were called precious prentes of crist; to perceiven the print of sight was "to feel (someone's) gaze." Out of print "no longer to be had from the publisher" is from 1670s (to be in print is recorded from late 15c.). Print journalism attested from 1962.
He always prints, I know, 'cos he learnt writin' from the large bills in the bookin' offices. [Charles Dickens, "Pickwick Papers," 1837]The meaning "to record (someone's) fingerprints" is from 1952. Related: Printed; printing.