taste (v.)

c. 1300, "to touch, to handle," from Old French taster "to taste, sample by mouth; enjoy" (13c.), earlier "to feel, touch, pat, stroke" (12c., Modern French tâter), from Vulgar Latin *tastare, apparently an alteration (perhaps by influence of gustare) of taxtare, a frequentative form of Latin taxare "evaluate, handle" (see tax (v.)). Meaning "to take a little food or drink" is from c. 1300; that of "to perceive by sense of taste" is recorded from mid-14c. Of substances, "to have a certain taste or flavor," it is attested from 1550s (replaced native smack (v.3) in this sense). Another PIE root in this sense was *geus- "to taste; to choose."

The Hindus recognized six principal varieties of taste with sixty-three possible mixtures ... the Greeks eight .... These included the four that are now regarded as fundamental, namely 'sweet,' 'bitter,' 'acid,' 'salt.' ... The others were 'pungent' (Gk. drimys, Skt. katuka-), 'astringent' (Gk. stryphnos, Skt. kasaya-), and, for the Greeks, 'rough, harsh' (austeros), 'oily, greasy' (liparos), with the occasional addition of 'winy' (oinodes). [Carl Darling Buck, "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages," 1949]

Sense of "to know by experience" is from 1520s. Related: Tasted; tasting. Taste buds is from 1879; also taste goblets.

taste (n.)

early 14c., "act of tasting," from Old French tast "sense of touch" (Modern French tât), from taster (see taste (v.)). From late 14c. as "a small portion given;" also "faculty or sense by which the flavor of a thing is discerned;" also "savor, sapidity, flavor."

Meaning "aesthetic judgment, faculty of discerning and appreciating what is excellent" is first attested 1670s (compare French goût, German geschmack, Russian vkus, etc.).

Of all the five senses, 'taste' is the one most closely associated with fine discrimination, hence the familiar secondary uses of words for 'taste, good taste' with reference to aesthetic appreciation. [Buck]

Taste is active, deciding, choosing, changing, arranging, etc.; sensibility is passive, the power to feel, susceptibility of impression, as from the beautiful. [Century Dictionary]

updated on September 25, 2018

Definitions of taste from WordNet
taste (n.)
the sensation that results when taste buds in the tongue and throat convey information about the chemical composition of a soluble stimulus;
the candy left him with a bad taste
the melon had a delicious taste
Synonyms: taste sensation / gustatory sensation / taste perception / gustatory perception
taste (n.)
a strong liking;
taste (n.)
delicate discrimination (especially of aesthetic values);
to ask at that particular time was the ultimate in bad taste
arrogance and lack of taste contributed to his rapid success
Synonyms: appreciation / discernment / perceptiveness
taste (n.)
a brief experience of something;
she enjoyed her brief taste of independence
he got a taste of life on the wild side
taste (n.)
a small amount eaten or drunk;
take a taste--you'll like it
Synonyms: mouthful
taste (n.)
the faculty of distinguishing sweet, sour, bitter, and salty properties in the mouth;
his cold deprived him of his sense of taste
Synonyms: gustation / sense of taste / gustatory modality
taste (n.)
a kind of sensing; distinguishing substances by means of the taste buds;
Synonyms: tasting
taste (v.)
have flavor; taste of something;
Synonyms: savor / savour
taste (v.)
perceive by the sense of taste;
Can you taste the garlic?
taste (v.)
take a sample of;
Synonyms: sample / try / try out
taste (v.)
have a distinctive or characteristic taste;
This tastes of nutmeg
Synonyms: smack
taste (v.)
distinguish flavors;
We tasted wines last night
taste (v.)
experience briefly;
The ex-slave tasted freedom shortly before she died
From, not affiliated with etymonline.