late 14c., from Old French total (14c.), from Medieval Latin totalis "entire, total" (as in summa totalis "sum total"), from Latin totus "all, all at once, the whole, entire, altogether," a word of unknown origin. Total war is attested from 1937 (William Shirer), in reference to a concept developed in Germany.
1716, "bring to a total," from total (n.). Intransitive sense "reach a total of" is from 1859. Meaning "to destroy one's car" first recorded 1954. Related: Totaled; totaling.