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[mawl] /mɔl/
a heavy hammer, as for driving stakes or wedges.
Archaic. a heavy club or mace.
verb (used with object)
to handle or use roughly:
The book was badly mauled by its borrowers.
to injure by a rough beating, shoving, or the like; bruise:
to be mauled by an angry crowd.
to split with a maul and wedge, as a wooden rail.
Also, mall.
Origin of maul
1200-50; (noun) Middle English malle < Old French mail mallet, hammer < Latin malleus hammer; (v.) Middle English mallen < Old French maillier, derivative of noun
Related forms
mauler, noun
unmauled, adjective
Can be confused
mall, maul, maw. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for maul
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At first curiosity attracted this animal, and later the hunting instinct caused him to maul his prey.

    Sketches of the East Africa Campaign Robert Valentine Dolbey
  • And, so saying, I picked up the maul and walked out of the building.

    A Middy in Command Harry Collingwood
  • I met him with a maul, and parried his blow, or I should have then lost my life.

    My Bondage and My Freedom Frederick Douglass
  • Would you have had the courage to swing the maul for the first blow if you had seen that bulkhead?

    Lord Jim Joseph Conrad
  • When wounded they become very savage, but they are at all times bad customers for dogs, which they maul in a shocking manner.

    At Home with the Patagonians George Chaworth Musters
  • Do you think the first tiger I see will get into my howdah and maul me?

    Gil the Gunner George Manville Fenn
  • There came the thudding of Alec's maul as he drove the iron wedges into a section of tree and began to split it into fence posts.

  • maul him, and send him back to Stanley Junction as a lesson to the others.

    Ralph on the Engine Allen Chapman
  • And so great were his "maul & wedge" propensities that he withheld not his hand from splitting the Tree of Liberty.

British Dictionary definitions for maul


verb (transitive)
to handle clumsily; paw
to batter or lacerate
a heavy two-handed hammer suitable for driving piles, wedges, etc
(rugby) a loose scrum that forms around a player who is holding the ball and on his feet
Derived Forms
mauler, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French mail, from Latin malleus hammer. See mallet
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for maul

mid-13c., meallen "strike with a heavy weapon," from Middle English mealle (mid-13c.) "mace, wooden club, heavy hammer" (see maul (n.). The meaning "damage seriously, mangle" is first recorded 1690s. Related: Mauled; mauling.


c.1200, mealle, "hammer, usually a heavy one; sledgehammer," from Old French mail "hammer," from Latin malleus "hammer" (see mallet).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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maul in the Bible

an old name for a mallet, the rendering of the Hebrew mephits (Prov. 25:18), properly a war-club.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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