The word token is derived from the Anglo-Saxon tacen, which means a sign, presage, type, or representation, that which points out something; and this is traced to taecan, to teach, show, or instruct, because by a token we show or instruct others as to what we are. Bailey, whose Dictionary was published soon after the Revival, defines it as "a sign or mark"; but it is singular that the word is not found in either of the dictionaries of Phillips or Blount, which were the most popular glossaries in the beginning of the eighteenth century. The word was, however, well known to the Fraternity, and was in use at the time of the Revival with precisely the same meaning that is now given to it as a mode of recognition.
The Hebrew word oth, is frequently used in Scripture to signify a sign or memorial of something past, some covenant made or promise given. thus God says to Noah, of the rainbow, "it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth"; and to Abraham he says of circumcision, " it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you." In Freemasonry, the grip of recognition is called a token, because it is an outward sign of the covenant of friendship and fellowship entered into between the members of the Fraternity, and is to be considered as a memorial of that covenant which was made, when it was first received by the candidate, between him and the Order into which he was then initiated.
Neither the French nor the German Freemasons have a word precisely equivalent to token. Krause translates it by merkmale, a sign or representation, but which has no technical Masonic Signification. The French have only attachment, which means the act of touching or clasping hands; and the Germans, griff, which is the same as the English grip. In the technical use of the word token, the English-speaking Freemasons have an advantage not possessed by those of any other country.