The word office was first used around the turn of the fourteenth century, when it was spelled offiz. Other spellings since then have included offys, offes, officis, offis, offyce, and ofice, but office has been widely accepted since the 1700s. The word comes from Old French ofice, which meant "position" rather than "workplace" (a definition that emerged later). That's from Latin officium, which had a lot of different definitions, such as "moral duty", "official position", "religious service" (from whence we get the verb officiate), "ceremony", and "business". Officium is a contraction of opificium, which was composed of the words for "work", opus, and "do", facere (so holding an office is literally "doing work"). Box office was coined in 1786, through a sense of money being kept in a box, and the phrase office hours was first attested in 1841.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.