1470-80 for an earlier sense; 1750-60 for current noun sense; < Frenchmanoeuvre,Middle Frenchmanuevre handwork, derivative of Old Frenchmanuvrer < Latinmanū operāre to do handwork, equivalent to manū (ablative of manus hand) + operāre to work (see operate); replacing earlier maanorre manual labor < Middle French, as above
late 15c., "hand-labor," from M.Fr. manoeuvre "manipulation, maneuver," from O.Fr. maneuvre "manual labor" (13c.), from M.L. manuopera, from manuoperare "work with the hands," from L. manu operari, from manu, abl. of manus "hand" (see manual) + operari (see operation). The military sense of "planned movement of troops or warship" is attested from 1758; general meaning "artful plan, adroit movement" is from 1774. The verb is first attested 1777. Related: Maneuvered; maneuvering; maneuvers.
maneuver ma·neu·ver (mə-nōō'vər, -nyōō'-) n. A movement or procedure involving skill and dexterity. v.ma·neu·vered, ma·neu·ver·ing, ma·neu·vers To manipulate into a desired position or toward a predetermined goal.