1212, from L. minor
"lesser, smaller, junior," formed as a masc./fem. of minus
on the mistaken assumption that minus
was a neut. comparative (see minus
), from PIE base *min-
"small" (cf. L. minuere,
"to diminish," Skt. miyate
"diminishes, declines," Rus. men'she
"less"). Some Eng. usages are via O.Fr. menor,
from L. minor.
Meaning "under-age" (adj.) is from 1579; the noun meaning "under-aged person" is from 1612. The musical sense is from 1694. In U.S. colleges and universities, "subject of study with fewer credits than a major," it is attested from 1890. In the baseball sense, minor league
is from 1884; the figurative extension is first recorded 1926.