"extemporize on a piano," 1789, originally a noun meaning "part of a stocking that covers the foot and ankle" (early 13c.), from Anglo-French *vaumpé, from Old French avantpié, from avant "in front" + pié "foot." Sense evolved to "provide a stocking with a new vamp" (1590s), to "patch up, repair" (cf. revamp) to "extemporize." Related: Vamped; vamping.
"seductive woman," 1911, short for vampire. First attested use is earlier than the release of the Fox film "A Fool There Was" (January 1915), with sultry Theda Bara in the role of The Vampire. But the movie was based on a play of that name that had been a Broadway hit (title and concept from a Kipling poem, "The Vampire"), and the word may ultimately trace to Bara's role. At any rate, Bara (real name Theodosia Goodman) remains the classic vamp.
A fool there was and he made his prayer
(Even as you and I!)
To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair
(We called her the woman who did not care)
But the fool, he called her his lady fair
(Even as you and I.)
[Kipling, "The Vampire"]
[1789+ Musicians; probably fr 1500s vamp, ''provide with a new (shoe) vamp, renovate,'' ultimately fr conjectured Anglo-French vampe´ fr Old French avant-pie´, ''footsock''; a refooted sock or a revamped shoe were felt to be in a way false, or improvised, hence the sense of ''fake'']
A seductive, sexually aggressive woman; a temptress: The flirt had become the ''baby vamp'' (1911+)
: I haven't tried to vamp Sam (1904+)
[fr vampire, and esp fr the 1914 movie A Fool There Was, in which Theda Bara played a seductive woman, the title and concept coming fr Rudyard Kipling's poem ''The Vampire'']
A volunteer firefighter
[1877+; origin unknown; said to be fr Voluntary Association of Master Pumpers]