"tax, fee," Old English toll "impost, tribute, passage-money, rent," variant of toln, cognate with Old Norse tollr, Old Frisian tolen, Old High German zol, German Zoll, probably an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin tolonium "custom house," classical Latin telonium "tollhouse," from Greek teloneion "tollhouse," from telones "tax-collector," from telos "duty, tax, expense, cost" (from suffixed form of PIE root *tele- "to lift, support, weigh;" see extol) For sense, compare finance.
On another theory it is native Germanic and related to tell (v.) on the notion of "that which is counted." Originally in a general sense of "payment exacted by an authority;" meaning "charge for right of passage along a road" is from late 15c.
"to sound with slow single strokes" (intransitive), mid-15c., probably a special use of tollen "to draw, lure," early 13c. variant of Old English -tyllan in betyllan "to lure, decoy," and fortyllan "draw away, seduce," of obscure origin. The notion is perhaps of "luring" people to church with the sound of the bells, or of "drawing" on the bell rope. Transitive sense from late 15c. Related: Tolled; tolling. The noun meaning "a stroke of a bell" is from mid-15c.
updated on December 15, 2021