senate (n.)

c. 1200, "the legal and administrative body of ancient Rome," from Old French senat or Latin senatus "highest council of the state in ancient Rome," literally "council of elders," from senex (genitive senis) "old man, old" (from PIE root *sen- "old").

It is attested from late 14c. in reference to governing bodies of free cities in Europe (Italy); of national governing bodies from 1550s (typically the upper or less-numerous branch of the legislature). The specific sense of "upper house of the U.S. legislature" is recorded from 1775.

updated on April 28, 2022