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1737, "shaded walk serving as a promenade," generalized from The Mall, name of a broad, tree-lined promenade in St. James's Park, London (so called from 1670s, earlier Maill, 1640s), which was so called because it formerly was an open alley that was used to play pall-mall, a croquet-like game involving hitting a ball with a mallet through a ring, from French pallemaille, from Italian pallamaglio, from palla "ball" (see balloon) + maglio "mallet" (see mallet). Modern sense of "enclosed shopping gallery" is from 1963. Mall rat is from 1985.