One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(in the card games ombre and quadrille) the second-best trump or honor.
- ‘For instance, suppose the manille (second highest trump) is led.’
Late 17th century: from French (perhaps influenced by main ‘hand’), from malille (also used as a term in card games), from Spanish malilla, diminutive of mala feminine of malo ‘bad’. Although ‘bad’ because of its low value, the card acquires power when its suit is trumps.
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