late 14c., repēten "to say what one has already said," from Old French repeter "say or do again, get back, demand the return of" (13c., Modern French répéeter) and directly from Latin repetere "do or say again; attack again," from re- "again" (see re-) + petere "to go to; attack; strive after; ask for, beseech" (from PIE root *pet- "to rush, to fly").
Meaning "say what another has said" is from 1590s. As an emphatic word in radio broadcasts, 1938. Meaning "do over again; do, make, or perform again" is from 1550s; the specific meaning "to take a course of education over again" is recorded from 1945, American English. Intransitive sense of "perform some distinctive (but unspecified) function again or a second time" is by 1714. Related: Repeated; repeating.
mid-15c., repete, in music, "a repeated passage, a passage performed a second time," from repeat (v.). By 1660s in reference to the sign in musical notation which indicates this. By 1937 of a repetition of a broadcast program.