1548, from M.Fr. cimeterre (15c.) or It. scimitarra, of uncertain origin. Turkish would be the expected source, but no such word has been found there. Perhaps from Pers. shimshir (pronounced "shamsher," cf. Gk. sampsera "a barbarian sword," from this source), but OED finds this "unsatisfactory as to form." Many early variations; the modern spelling is from influence of the It. form of the word.