"design stamped on wax," c.1230, from O.Fr. seel (Fr. sceau), from V.L. *sigellum (cf. It. suggello, Sp. sello, also O.Fris., M.H.G. sigel, Ger. Siegel), from L. sigillum "small picture, engraved figure, seal," dim. of signum "mark, token" (see sign
). An earlier borrowing directly
from L. is represented by O.E. insigel. Sealing-wax is attested from c.1300. Seal point "dark brown marking on a Siamese cat" is recorded from 1934.
"mammal with flippers," O.E. seolh "seal," from P.Gmc. *selkhaz (cf. O.N. selr, Swed. sjöl, M.L.G. sel, M.Du. seel, O.H.G. selah), of unknown origin, perhaps a borrowing from Finnic.
"to fasten with (or as with) a seal," early 13c., from seal
(n.1). Meaning "to place a seal on (a document)" is recorded from mid-14c.; sense of "to close up with wax, lead, cement, etc." is attested from 1660s, from the notion of wax seals on envelopes. To seal one's fate
(1810) probably reflects the notion of a seal on an execution warrant.