early 14c., returnen, "to come back, come or go back to a former position" (intransitive), from Old French retorner, retourner "turn back, turn round, return" (Modern French retourner), from re- "back" (see re-) + torner "to turn" (see turn (v.)). Also in part from Medieval Latin retornare, returnare.
The transitive sense of "report officially, give an official statement or account" (in answer to a writ or demand) is from early 15c.; "to send (someone or something) back" is by mid-15c.; that of "to turn back" is from c. 1500. Meaning "to give in repayment or recompense" is from 1590s; that of "give back, restore" is from c. 1600. Related: Returned; returning.
late 14c., "act of coming back" to a place or state, also "formal or official report of election results," from Anglo-French retorn, retourn, Old French retorne, retourne, verbal noun from retorner "turn back, turn round, return" (see return (v.)). Also in part from Medieval Latin returnum. Related: Returns.
The meaning "official report of the result of an election" is from mid-15c. The sense of "act of giving by way of recompense" is from 1540s. In ball games from 1833 (cricket); specifically in tennis from 1886. The meaning "a yield, a profit, gain" in some trade or occupation is recorded from 1620s. The sense of "a thing sent back" is from 1875.
To wish someone many happy returns of the day was in Addison (1716). The postal return address, to which an item is to be returned if it could not be delivered, is attested from 1879; return envelope, enclosed for the recipient's reply to a letter, is by 1886. The traveler's return ticket is by 1847.