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"firearm for infantry" (later replaced by the rifle), 1580s, from Middle French mousquette, also the name of a kind of sparrow-hawk, diminutive of mosca "a fly," from Latin musca (see midge). The hawk so called either for its size or because it looks speckled when in flight. Early firearms often were given names of beasts (cf. dragoon), and the equivalent word in Italian was used to mean "an arrow for a crossbow." The French word was borrowed earlier into English (early 15c.) in its literal sense of "sparrow-hawk."