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early 14c., from French sans, Old French sen, sens (with adverbial genitive) "without, except, apart, not counting," cognate with Provençal senes, Old Catalan senes, Old Spanish sen (Spanish sin), Old Italian sen, from Vulgar Latin *sene, from Latin sine "without," enlarged form of sed, se "without," from PIE root *sen(e)- "apart, separated" (see sunder). In reference to fonts, 1927, short for sans-serif.
Japanese honorific title, 1878, short form of more formal sama.