express

\ \ [14] Something that is expressed is literally ‘pressed out’. The word comes via Old French from Vulgar Latin *expressāre, a compound verb formed from the prefix ex- ‘out’ and pressārepress’. Its meaning developed metaphorically from ‘press out’ to ‘form by pressure’ (presumably applied originally to modelling in clay or some similar substance, and subsequently to sculpture and then painting), and finally to ‘make known in words’.
\ \ The Vulgar Latin verb was in fact moving in on territory already occupied by its classical Latin forerunner exprimere (source of French exprimerexpress’ and perhaps of English sprain [17]). The past participle of this was expressus, used adjectivally for ‘prominent, distinct, explicit’. Old French took it over as expres and passed it on to English in the 14th century. By now its meaning was moving towards ‘intended for a particular purpose’, and in the 19th century it was applied to ‘special’ trains (as in ‘football specials’). It did not take long, however, for this to slip via ‘train for people wanting to go to a particular place, and therefore not stopping anywhere else’ to ‘fast train’. Hence the modern sense of express, ‘fast’, was born.
\ \ Cf.ESPRESSO, PRESS, SPRAIN

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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