mid-13c., "apparatus, gear," from M.Du. or M.L.G. takel "the rigging of a ship," perhaps related to M.Du. taken "grasp, seize" (see take), or perhaps from root of tack (1). Meaning "apparatus for fishing" is recorded from late 14c. The noun meaning "act of tackling" in the sporting sense is recorded from 1876 (see tackle (v.)); as the name of a position in Amer. football, it is recorded from 1891.
mid-14c., "entangle, involve," from tackle (n.). Sense of "to furnish (a ship) with tackles" is from c.1400; meaning "to harness a horse" is recorded from 1714. The meaning "lay hold of, come to grips with, attack" is attested from 1828, described by Webster that year as "a common popular use of the word in New England, though not elegant;" fig. sense of "try to deal with" (a task or problem) is from 1840. The verb in the sporting sense first recorded 1884.