Today, we think of the word font as whatever kind of text we choose to write in, but that idea historically has been communicated by the word typeface, while font included the specifications for size, italics, and more within that typeface. This sense traces back to the printing press days, when a font was a set of printing blocks carved out in a certain height, width, and style. That definition, which emerged in the 1660s, comes from an earlier meaning of "cast iron", because the printing blocks had to be made out of cast metals. Through French, that comes from the Latin verb fondre, meaning "to melt", here in reference to the metals that were melted while being cast. Finally, it all traces to the Proto-Indo-European root gheue, meaning "to pour".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a rising junior 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.