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early 14c., "to guide or direct," from Old French adrecier "go straight toward; straighten, set right; point, direct" (13c.), from Vulgar Latin *addirectiare "make straight," from Latin ad "to" (see ad-) + *directiare, from Latin directus "straight, direct" (see direct (v.)). Late 14c. as "to set in order, repair, correct." Meaning "to write as a destination on a written message" is from mid-15c. Meaning "to direct spoken words (to someone)" is from late 15c. Related: Addressed; addressing.
1530s, "dutiful or courteous approach," from address (v.) and from French adresse. Sense of "formal speech" is from 1751. Sense of "superscription of a letter" is from 1712 and led to the meaning "place of residence" (1888).