1737, "shaded walk serving as a promenade," generalized from The Mall, name of a broad, tree-lined promenade in St. James's Park, London (so called from 1670s, earlier Maill, 1640s), which was so called because it formerly was an open alley that was used to play pall-mall.
This was a once-popular game played with a wooden ball in a kind of smooth alley boarded in at each side, in which the ball was struck with a mallet to send it through an iron arch placed at the end of the alley. The game's name is from French pallemaille, from Italian pallamaglio, from palla "ball" (see balloon (n.)) + maglio "mallet" (from Latin malleus "a hammer, mallet," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). Modern sense of "enclosed shopping gallery" is from 1962 (from 1951 in reference to city streets set aside for pedestrians only). Mall rat "one who frequents a mall" is from 1985 (see rat (n.)).
The short history of malls goes like this: In 1954, Victor Gruen's Northland Center, often credited as the first modern shopping mall (though earlier examples existed), opens in Southfield, Michigan. The suburban location is fitting because the rise of the automobile, helped along by the Federal-Aid Highway Act, led to the widespread creation of large shopping centers away from urban centers. This, among other factors, nearly killed downtowns, and malls reigned supreme for some 40 years. By the 1990s, however, a new urbanism movement revived the urban shopping experience and eroded the dominance of malls. Next, the rise of big box stores and online shopping sounded the death knell for mall culture. [Steven Kurutz, "An Ode to Shopping Malls," New York Times, July 26, 2017]
"small wooden hammer," chiefly used for driving another tool, late 14c., from Old French maillet "mallet, small wooden hammer, door-knocker," diminutive of mail, from Latin malleus "a hammer, mallet," from Proto-Italic *molalo-, *molklo- "hammer," from PIE *molkh-tlo- "crushing instrument," source also of Russian molot, Czech mlat "hammer," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." It is wielded with one hand, while the heavier mall or maul requires both.
1856, "style in fine art, artistic skill, faculty of producing excellence rapidly and easily," from French chic "stylishness" (19c.), originally "subtlety" (16c.), which is of unknown origin. Perhaps [Klein] it is related to German Schick, Geschick "tact, skill, aptness," from Middle Low German schikken "arrange appropriately," or Middle High German schicken "to arrange, set in order." Or perhaps it is from French chicane, from chicanerie "trickery" (see chicanery).
The meaning "Parisian elegance and stylishness combined with originality" is by 1882 (Pall Mall Gazette, Sept. 6, 1888, uses the word in a concert review and pauses to define it as "an untranslatable word, denoting an indispensable quality"). As an adjective, in reference to persons, "stylish," 1879 in English. "Not so used in F[rench]" [OED].
late 14c., "capable of being shaped or extended by hammering or rolling," from Old French malleable and directly from Medieval Latin malleabilis, from malleare "to beat with a hammer," from Latin malleus "hammer" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). Figurative sense, of persons, "capable of being adapted by outside influence" is recorded from 1610s.
c. 1300, "wild drake or duck," from Old French malart (12c.) or Medieval Latin mallardus, apparently from male, from Latin masculus (see male), in which case the original sense probably was not of a specific species but of any male wild duck, though the specific sense of "male of the wild duck" is not attested in English until early 14c.
late 14c., spelling alteration of late Old English malwe and directly from Latin malva "mallows" (source also of Modern French mauve, Spanish and Italian malva), a word from a Mediterranean substrate language. The same lost word apparently yielded Greek malakhe "mallow."
outermost of the three bones inside the human ear, 1660s, from Latin malleus "a hammer" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). So called for its shape.
bone knob on either side of the human ankle, 1690s, from Latin malleolus, diminutive of malleus "a hammer" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). Anatomical use is said to date to Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564). Related: Malleolar.