Etymology
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manifold (adv.)

"many times, in multiplied number or quantity," late Old English manigfealde, from manifold (adj.). Old English had also an adverb manigfealdlice "in various ways, manifoldly," from the source of manifold (adj.).

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manifold (n.)

in mechanical sense, "pipe or chamber, usually of cast metal, with several outlets," by 1855, a shortening of manifold pipe (by 1845), which originally was used with reference to a type of musical instrument mentioned in the Old Testament. See manifold (adj.). As "pipe running from a carburetor to the cylinders in an internal combustion engine of an automobile," by 1904.

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manifold (adj.)

"of many kinds; numerous in kind or variety; diverse; exhibiting or embracing many points, features, or characteristics," Old English monigfald (Anglian), manigfeald (West Saxon), "various, varied in appearance, complicated; many times magnified; numerous, abundant," from manig (see many) + -feald (see -fold). A Proto-Germanic compound, *managafalþaz (source also of Old Frisian manichfald, Middle Dutch menichvout, German mannigfalt, Swedish mångfalt, Gothic managfalþs), perhaps a loan-translation of Latin multiplex (see multiply).

It retains the original pronunciation of many. Old English also had a verbal form, manigfealdian "to multiply, abound, increase, extend;" in modern times the verb meant "to make multiple copies of by a single operation." Related: Manifoldness.

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-fold 

multiplicative word-forming element attached to numerals, from Old English -feald, Northumbrian -fald, from Proto-Germanic *-falda- (cognates: Old Saxon -fald, Old Frisian -fald, Old Norse -faldr, Dutch -voud, German -falt, Gothic falþs), combining form of *falthan, from PIE *polt-, extended form of root *pel- (2) "to fold."

The same root yielded fold (v.) and perhaps also Greek -ploid, -plos and Latin -plus (see -plus). Native words with it have been crowded out by Latinate double, triple, etc., but it persists in manifold, hundredfold, etc.

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*pel- (2)

Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to fold."

It forms all or part of: aneuploidy; decuple; fold (v.); -fold; furbelow; haplo-; hundredfold; manifold; multiple; octuple; polyploidy; -plus; quadruple; quintuple; sextuple; triple.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit putah "fold, pocket;" Albanian pale "fold;" Middle Irish alt "a joint;" Lithuanian pelti "to plait;" Old English faldan "to fold, wrap up, furl."

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many (adj.)

"being or consisting of a large number of units or individuals," Middle English mani, manige "indefinitely numerous, many a, much," from Old English monig, manig, from Proto-Germanic *managaz (source also of Old Saxon manag, Swedish mången, Old Frisian manich, Dutch menig, Old High German manag, German manch, Gothic manags), perhaps from a PIE *menegh- "copious" (source also of Old Church Slavonic munogu "much, many," Old Irish menicc, Welsh mynych "frequent," Old Irish magham "gift"), or perhaps a northern European substratum word also borrowed in Uralic (compare Finnish moni).

The pronunciation was altered by influence of any (see manifold). Middle English had comparative and superlative manier, maniest, also an adverbial form manygates "in many ways." Many honden maken liʒt werk is in "How the Good Wife Taught Her Daughter" (c. 1350).

The angels keep their ancient places—
Turn but a stone, and start a wing!
'Tis ye, 'tis your estrangèd faces,
That miss the many-splendored thing.
[from "In No Strange Land (The Kingdom of God is within you)" by Francis Thompson, 1907]
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multiformity (n.)

"diversity of forms; variety of shapes or appearances in one thing," 1580s, from Late Latin multiformitas, from Latin multiformis "many-shaped; manifold; various, diverse," see multi- + form (n.).

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multiplicable (adj.)

"capable of being multiplied," late 15c., from Latin multiplicabilis "manifold," from multiplicare "to multiply, increase" (see multiply). Alternative multipliable is recorded from 1620s.

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multiform (adj.)

also multi-form, "having many forms," c. 1600, from French multiforme or Latin multiformis "many-shaped, manifold," from multus "much, many" (see multi-) + forma "shape" (see form (n.)).

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multiplex (adj.)

"manifold, multiple, multiplicate," 1550s, from Latin multiplex "having many folds; many times as great in number; of many parts" (see multiply). As a noun, late 14c. in arithmetic, "a multiple."

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