One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Each of the twelve confederacies of Sikhs in the 18th and 19th centuries, originally organized primarily for military purposes, but subsequently as an administrative division of the Punjab.
Mid 19th century. From Panjabi misal confederacy from Urdu mis̱l an assemblage of from Persian mis̱l the like of and its etymon Arabic miṯl (noun) equivalent, equal, something or someone of the same kind.
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