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"to communicate in search of mutual agreement," 1590s, back-formation from negotiation, or else from Latin negotiatus, past participle of negotiari. In the sense of "tackle successfully" (1862), it at first meant "to clear on horseback a hedge, fence, or other obstacle" and "originated in the hunting-field; those who hunt the fox like also to hunt jocular verbal novelties" [Gowers, 1965]. Related: Negotiated; negotiating.