Does anybody know the origin of the expression "part and parcel"? Where and when did the word "parcel" start to be used?
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Earliest reference from OED:
Earliest I can find via Google Books (from A Christian Directorie Guiding Men to Their Salvation, 1585):
The original meaning of parcel, as pointed out elsewhere, is a small part.
Thus the expression part and parcel was originally used in a sense that was frequently preceded by every, to mean all parts [of something], even the smallest thereof.
In more recent usage the meaning has largely shifted to convey the sense of something being a necessary part of some larger containing thing, frequently with the implication that this particular part isn't desirable, but can't be avoided if you want the thing it's part of.
That shift in meaning probably came about because the original sense was often used in legal definitions, leading to the "unavoidable" connotations which thus became the focus of later usage.
The origin of the word reported by the NOAD is late Middle English, from Old French parcelle, from Latin particula ("small part").
The Online Etymology Dictionary reports that the origin of parcel is circa 1300.