1620s, "act of selecting," from Latin selectionem (nominative selectio) "a choosing out, choice, selection," noun of action from past-participle stem of seligere "choose out, single out, select; separate, cull" (see select (adj.)). Meaning "thing selected" is from 1805. Biological sense is from 1837; applied to actions of breeders (methodical selection), hence its use by Darwin (natural selection; 1857). French sélection is a 19c. borrowing from English.