a hammerlike tool with a head commonly of wood but occasionally of rawhide, plastic, etc., used for driving any tool with a wooden handle, as a chisel, or for striking a surface.
the wooden implement used to strike the balls in croquet.
Polo. the long-handled stick, or club, used to drive the ball.

1375–1425; late Middle English maillet < Middle French, equivalent to mail maul + -et -et Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mallet (ˈmælɪt)
1.  a tool resembling a hammer but having a large head of wood, copper, lead, leather, etc, used for driving chisels, beating sheet metal, etc
2.  a long stick with a head like a hammer used to strike the ball in croquet or polo
3.  chiefly (US) a very large powerful steam locomotive with a conventional boiler but with two separate articulated engine units
[C15: from Old French maillet wooden hammer, diminutive of mailmaul (n)]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

1392, from O.Fr. maillet "small wooden hammer," dim. of mail, from L. malleus "hammer," from PIE *mele- "to grind, crush" (cf. L. molere "to grind," Gk. mylos "millstone," O.E. melu "meal," O.C.S. mlatu, Rus. molotu "hammer").
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
Place stakes into the stake rings at the corners of your tent floor and hammer
  them into the ground with a mallet.
Drip glue inside each dowel hole and pound dowels into place with a mallet.
Invert the mold and tap it with a mallet to free the pot.
Using a nutcracker or wood mallet, crack the shell of each leg and claw section.
Image for mallet
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