1864, originally in rugby, where the ball is literally touched down on the other side of the goal, from verbal phrase (by 1859 in sports), from touch (v.) + down (adv.). As "landing of an aircraft" from 1935.
late 13c., "make deliberate physical contact with," from Old French tochier "to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with" (11c., Modern French toucher), from Vulgar Latin *toccare "to knock, strike" as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare), perhaps of imitative origin. Related: Touched; touching.
From c. 1300 in the transitive sense "bring into physical contact," also "pertain to." Other senses attested from 14c. are "perceive by physical contact, examine by sense of touch," also "be or come into physical contact with; come to rest on; border on, be contiguous with;" also "use the sense of touch," and "mention, describe." From early 14c. as "affect or move mentally or emotionally," with notion of to "touch" the heart or mind. Also from early 14c. as "have sexual contact with." Meaning "to get or borrow money" first recorded 1760.
Touch-and-go (adj.) is recorded from 1812, apparently from the name of a tag-like game, first recorded 1650s (however, despite the coincidence, this in no way suggests an acronym origin for tag). Touch football is first attested 1933. Touch-me-not (1590s) translates Latin noli-me-tangere.
"in a descending direction, from a higher to a lower place, degree, or condition," late Old English shortened form of Old English ofdune "downwards," originally of dune "off from (the) hill," from dune "from the hill," dative of dun "hill" (see down (n.2)). The "hill" word is general in Germanic, but this sense development is peculiar to English. As a preposition, "in a descending direction upon or along," from late 14c.
To be down on "express disapproval of" is by 1851. Down home is from 1828 as "in one's home region," as an adjective phrase meaning "unpretentious" by 1931, American English. Down the hatch as a toast is from 1931. Down to the wire is 1901, from horse-racing.
Down Under "Australia and New Zealand" attested from 1886; Down East "Maine" is from 1825; Down South "in the Southern states of the U.S." is attested by 1834. Down the road "in the future" is by 1964, U.S. colloquial. Down-to-earth "everyday, ordinary, realistic" is by 1932.
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Definitions of touchdown from WordNet
a score in American football; being in possession of the ball across the opponents' goal line;
a landing (as the wheels touch the landing field); especially of airplanes;