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late 14c., "the act of making publicly known," from Old French publicacion (14c.) and directly from Latin publicationem (nominative publicatio) "a making public," noun of action from past participle stem of publicare "make public," from publicus (see public (adj.)). Meaning "the issuing of a written or printed work" is first recorded 1570s; as the word for the thing so issued, from 1650s. Parallel publishment had a shadowy existence alongside this word, in local and specialized use, into the 18c.