1640s, first used in English by physician Sir Thomas Browne (1605-1682), coined in Mod.L. by English physicist William Gilbert (1540-1603) in treatise "De Magnete" (1600), from L. electrum "amber," from Gk. elektron "amber" (Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus), also "pale gold" (a compound of 1 part silver to 4 of gold); of unknown origin. The physical force so called because it first was generated by rubbing amber. Electric toothbrush first recorded 1936; electric typewriter 1958.