The hard palate forms before birth.
If the fusion is incomplete, it is called a cleft palate.
The English synonyms palate and palatum, and also the related adjective palatine (as in palatine bone), are all from the Latin palatum via Old French palat, words that, like their English derivatives, refer to the "roof of the mouth."
The Latin word palatum and its derivatives mentioned above are all unrelated to a similar-sounding Latin word meaning palace, palatium, from which other senses of palatine and the English word palace itself derive.
As the roof of the mouth was once considered the seat of the sense of taste, palate can also refer to this sense itself, as in the phrase "a discriminating palate". By further extension, the flavor of a food (particularly beer or wine) may be called its palate, as when a wine is said to have an oaky palate.