1794, "semaphor apparatus" (hence the Telegraph Hill
in many cities), lit. "that which writes at a distance," from Fr. télégraphe,
"far" (from Gk. tele-
; see tele-
) + -graphe.
The signaling device had been invented in France in 1791 by the brothers Chappe, who had called it tachygraphe
, lit. "that which writes fast," but the better name was suggested to them by Fr. diplomat Comte André-François Miot de Mélito (1762-1841). First applied 1797 to an experimental electric telegraph (designed by Dr. Don Francisco Salva at Barcelona); the practical version was developed 1830s by Samuel Morse. The verb is attested from 1805; fig. meaning "to signal one's intentions" is first attested 1925, originally in boxing. Related: Telegraphic