One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A hand, a fist.
2A person's handwriting or signature.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in George Parker (1732–1800), actor and public lecturer. Origin uncertain; perhaps from maul. N.E.D compares Shelta mål′a hand, arm, handle, although R. A. S. Macalister implies that the Shelta word could be from the English slang word; it might otherwise be taken as a transposition of Irish lámh hand (although mh is not/m/), or compared with Romani malaváv to strike. The origin of the form mylier is unclear.
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