late 14c., from Old French total, from Medieval Latin totalis "entire, total" (as in summa totalis "sum total"), from Latin totus "all, whole, entire," of unknown origin. Total war is attested from 1937, in reference to a concept developed in Germany.
1550s, from total (adj.).
1716, from total (n.). Meaning "to destroy one's car" first recorded 1954. Related: Totaled; totaling.
[first sense fr the phrase a total loss, having to do with something insured]