"to drive (cattle, etc.) by poking and prodding," c.1382, from O.Fr. ponchonner "to punch, prick, stamp," from ponchon "pointed tool, piercing weapon" (see punch
(n.1)). Meaning "to stab, puncture" is from c.1440. Specific meaning of "to hit with the fist" first recorded 1530,
probably influenced by punish; noun sense of "a blow with the fist" is recorded by 1580. Noun in the figurative sense of "forceful, vigorous quality" is recorded from 1911. To beat (someone) to the punch is from 1923, a metaphor from boxing. Punch line is from 1921; punch-drunk is from 1915. To punch a ticket, etc., is c.1440, probably from a shortening of puncheon "pointed tool," from O.Fr. ponchon.
"pointed tool," c.1460, short for puncheon (1367), from O.Fr. ponchon "pointed tool, piercing weapon," from V.L. *punctionem (nom. punctio) "pointed tool," from L. punctus, pp. of pungere "to prick" (see pungent
). Meaning "machine for pressing or stamping a die" is from 1628.
"mixed drink," 1632, traditionally said to derive from Hindi panch "five," in allusion to the number of original ingredients (spirits, water, lemon juice, sugar, spice), from Skt. panchan-s.
the puppet show star, 1709, shortening of Punchinello (1666), from It. (Neapolitan) Pollecinella, dim. of pollecena "turkey pullet," probably in allusion to his big nose. The phrase pleased as punch apparently refers to his unfailing triumph over enemies. The comic weekly of this name was published in
London from 1841.