One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A kind of large fishing-net, especially used in Mediterranean waters for capturing tuna.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country. From French madrague large barrier of nets used to catch tuna off the coast of the Mediterranean from Occitan madraga from Arabic maḍrab (plural maḍārib) place where there is an installation of fishing-nets, tunny fishery from ḍaraba to hit, beat, knock about.
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