Etymology
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record (v.)

c. 1200, recorden, "to repeat, reiterate, recite; rehearse, get by heart" (senses now obsolete), from Old French recorder "tell, relate, repeat, recite, report, make known" (12c.) and directly from Latin recordari "remember, call to mind, think over, be mindful of," from re-, here probably with a sense of "restore" (see re-), + cor (genitive cordis) "heart" (the metaphoric seat of memory, as in learn by heart), from PIE root *kerd- "heart."

The meaning "set down in writing, preserve the memory of by written or other characters, write down for the purpose of preserving evidence of" is by mid-14c. The sense of "put sound (later pictures, etc.) on disks, cylinders, tape, etc." is from 1892. Related: Recorded; recording.

record (n.)

c. 1300, "testimony committed to writing, fact or condition of having been recorded," from Old French record "memory; statement, report," from recorder "to record" (see record (v.)). Also in part from Medieval Latin noun recordum, recorda. Related: Records.

The meaning "a written account of some fact, event, or proceeding for the purpose of preserving the memory of it" is from late 14c., as is the sense of "official document of a government department or municipal office." Hence the meaning "fact or condition of being preserved as knowledge, especially by being put into writing" (late 14c.).

The meaning "disk on which sounds or images have been recorded" is attested from 1878, originally also of Edison's wax cylinders, later extended somewhat to other forms of sound storage. Record-player is attested from 1919; record-album " audio recordings issued as a collection" is by 1936. Earlier it was "an album in which to store Edison cylinders." "The man who owns Blue Amberol Records only, ought to have albums in which to keep them instead of scattering them around or keeping them in old boxes, etc., under the piano or the sofa." [advertisement, Edison Phonograph Monthly, July 1913]. Record-store is attested by 1933; record-shop from 1929.

The meaning "best or highest official achievement in a sport, activity, etc." is by 1883; the verb to go with it might be break (1924) or beat (1884). The sense of "aggregate of known facts in a person's life" is by 1856, American English.

The journalist's phrase on the record is attested from 1900; adverbial phrase off the record "confidentially" is attested from 1906. For the record "for the sake of having the facts known" is by 1930 in congressional testimony. To keep (or set) the record straight is by 1949. The legal phrase matter of record was in Middle English as "matter that has been formally recorded or documented" and "legal issue that can be resolved by existing record."

updated on November 18, 2021

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