c.1300, "plate of armor," probably from M.L.G. splinte, splente "thin piece of iron," related to M.Du. splinte "splint," probably ult. from PIE *(s)plei- "to split, splice" (see flint). Cognate with Dan. splint "splinter," Swed. splint "wooden peg, wedge." Meaning "slender flexible slip of wood" is recorded from early 14c.; specific surgical sense is attested from c.1400.