1590s, "to divide speech into distinct parts" (earlier "to formally bring charges against," 1550s), from Latin articulatus, past participle of articulare "to separate into joints," also "to utter distinctly," from articulus "joint" (see article). Generalized sense of "express in words" is from 1690s. Literal sense, "to join, to attach by joints," is attested from 1610s. Earlier senses, "to set forth in articles," "to bring a charge against" (1560s) now are obsolete or nearly so. Related: Articulated; articulating.