by 1896, a correction of Mohammed (1610s), the Arabic masc. proper name, literally "the Praiseworthy," name of the prophet of Islam (c. 570-632). The earliest forms of his name in English were Mahum, Mahimet (c. 1200). The word in English was originally also used confusedly for "an idol." Wyclif has Macamethe (c. 1380), and Makomete also turns up in 14c. documents. Mahomet was common until 19c.; see Mohammed. The story of Muhammad and the mountain is told in English by the 1620s.
former common English transliteration of Muhammad.
The worst of letting the learned gentry bully us out of our traditional Mahometan & Mahomet ... is this: no sooner have we tried to be good & learnt to say, or at least write, Mohammed than they are fired with zeal to get us a step or two further on the path of truth, which at present seems likely to end in Muhammad with a dot under the h .... [H.W. Fowler, "A Dictionary of Modern English Usage," 1926]
a popular form of the name Muhammad (the prophet of Islam) in Middle English, late 14c., via Old French. Other Middle English variants, dating back to c. 1200, include Makomete, macomete, machamete, machamote, mahimet, mahumet macumeth, makamed. In Middle English maumet was "a representation of a pagan deity, an idol" (c. 1200); "a false god" (mid-14c.), from Old French mahumet; hence also maumetrie "worship of pagan deities, idolatry." A curious misunderstanding of a prophet and faith notable for severe monotheism. Related: Mahometan.