signature (n.)

1530s in reference to a kind of document in Scottish law, from French signature (16c.) or directly from Medieval Latin signatura "signature, a rescript," in classical Latin "the matrix of a seal," from signatus, past participle of signare "to mark with a stamp, sign" (see sign (v.)).

The meaning "one's own name written in one's own hand" is from 1570s, replacing sign-manual (early 15c.) in this sense. The meaning "distinguishing mark of any kind" is from 1620s. The music-notation meaning "signs placed it the beginning of a staff to indicate the time and key" is from 1806. 

updated on October 24, 2022