One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A mock sea battle staged for entertainment.
2A place specially constructed for the exhibition of mock sea battles; especially a building enclosing an artificial stretch of water.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in John Harington (bap. 1560, d. 1612), courtier and author. From classical Latin naumachia mock sea-fight, artificial lake constructed for such fights from ancient Greek ναυμαχία sea battle from ναῦς ship + -μαχία.
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