[14] Something that is expressed is literally ‘pressed out’. The word comes via Old French from Vulgar Latin *expressāre, a compound verb formed from the prefix ex- ‘out’ and pressāre ‘press’. Its meaning developed metaphorically from ‘press out’ to ‘form by pressure’ (presumably applied originally to modelling in clay or some similar substance, and subsequently to sculpture and then painting), and finally to ‘make known in words’. The Vulgar Latin verb was in fact moving in on territory already occupied by its classical Latin forerunner exprimere (source of French exprimer ‘express’ and perhaps of English sprain [17]). The past participle of this was expressus, used adjectivally for ‘prominent, distinct, explicit’. Old French took it over as expres and passed it on to English in the 14th century. By now its meaning was moving towards ‘intended for a particular purpose’, and in the 19th century it was applied to ‘special’ trains (as in ‘football specials’). It did not take 205 exude long, however, for this to slip via ‘train for people wanting to go to a particular place, and therefore not stopping anywhere else’ to ‘fast train’. Hence the modern sense of express, ‘fast’, was born. => ESPRESSO, PRESS, SPRAIN
* * *
   The origin of the word is in Latin expressus, literally 'squeezed out,' from the verb exprimere, comprising ex-, 'out,' and primere, 'to press.' Something 'squeezed out' is explicitly shown or stated, or clearly used for a particular purpose. Hence express train, which was originally a special train, one having the express purpose of traveling fast.

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


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