1540, "open space in a net," perhaps from some dial. survival of O.E. max "net," or from its cognates, M.Du. maessce, Du. maas, from P.Gmc. *mask- (cf. O.N. möskvi, Dan. maske, Swed. maska, O.H.G. masca, Ger. masche "mesh"), from PIE base *mezg- "to knit, plait, twist" (cf. Lith. mezgu "to knit," mazgas "knot"). The verb is first recorded 1532, in the fig. sense of "to entangle."