1607, "tearful," from M.E. proper name Maudelen
(c.1320), from Magdalene
), woman's name, originally surname of Mary, the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii.37 (see Magdalene
). In paintings, she was often shown weeping as a sign of repentance. Meaning "characterized by tearful sentimentality" is recorded from c.1631.