c.1400, from L. manualis "of or belonging to the hand," from manus "hand, strength, power over, armed force, handwriting," from PIE *men- "hand, to take in one's hand" (cf. O.E. mund "hand, protection, guardian," Ger. Vormund "guardian," Gk. mane "hand"). Related: Manually.
early 15c., "service book used by a priest," from O.Fr. manuel, from L.L. manuale "case or cover of a book, handbook," neut. of L. manualis (see manual (adj.)). Meaning "a concise handbook" of any sort is from 1530s.