mid-15c., "stick marked with notches to indicate amount owed or paid," from Anglo-French tallie (early 14c., Old French taille "notch in a piece of wood signifying a debt"), Anglo-Latin talea (late 12c.), from Medieval Latin tallia, from Latin talea "a cutting, rod, stick" (see tailor (n.), and compare sense history of score). Meaning "a thing that matches another" first recorded 1650s, from practice of splitting a tally lengthwise across the notches, debtor and creditor each retaining one of the halves; the usual method of keeping accounts before writing became general (the size of the notches varied with the amount). Sports sense of "a total score" is from 1856. Also in 19c. British provincial verbal expression live tally, make a tally bargain "live as husband and wife without marrying."