This weekend we had a great time with our out-of-town visitors, my friend (and fellow WhiteFire author and editor, and critique partner) Dina Sleiman and her husband. So in the spirit of enjoyable company, I thought I'd look at the word. ;-)
Sine the mid-12th century, company has meant "a large group of people." A meaning still in use, but it sounds a little old-fashioned to talk about "being in a company of people." It's from the Old French compagnie, which means "society, friendship; body of soldier." Note that the French carries a military meaning, but that didn't get applied to the English word until 1580.
Company meaning "companionship," (i.e. "I'd like some company while I do this") is from the late 13th century. It adopted the sense of a business association since the 1550s but apparently been used for trade guilds since the 1300s.
So as you can see, it's an old, well-established word in pretty much all its current meanings. Even the abbreviation "co." is old, dating from the 1670s.
And so I thank you for your virtual company and hope you all enjoy your week! It's our first full week of summer break here. School wrapped up on Wednesday, but Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday we had ballet--that's now over too, so we're free! Woot!