c.1200, from Old North French cable, from Medieval Latin capulum "lasso, rope, halter for cattle," from Latin capere "to take, seize" (see capable). Technically, in nautical use, a rope 10 or more inches around; in non-nautical use, a rope of wire (not hemp or fiber). Given a new range of senses in 19c.: Meaning "message received by telegraphic cable" is from 1883 (short for cable message). Cable car is from 1879. Cable television first attested 1963; shortened form cable is from 1972.
c.1500, "to tie up with cables;" 1871, American English, "to transmit by cable;" from cable (n.). Related: Cabled; cabling.