female proper name, shortened form of Mollie, Molly, itself a familiar of Mary. Used from c. 1600 for "prostitute," but in low slang by early 19c. it also meant "female companion not bound by ties of marriage, but often a life-mate" [Century Dictionary]. It became a general word for "woman" in old underworld slang, for instance Moll-buzzer "pickpocket who specializes in women;" Moll-tooler "female pick-pocket." U.S. sense of "a gangster's girlfriend" is by 1923.
1867, a member of a secret society in the mining districts of Pennsylvania (suppressed in 1876), which was named for an earlier secret society in Ireland (1843) formed to resist evictions and payment of rents and to terrorize those involved in the processes. From Molly (see Moll) + common Irish surname Maguire. There appears never to have been a specific Molly Maguire, but members were said to sometimes wear women's clothing as disguise, hence the name.
a common 18c. colloquial term for "homosexual man" or "man who is deemed effeminate, a sissy," by 1707, perhaps 1690s. The fem. proper name Molly or Moll served as a type-name of a low-class girl or prostitute in old songs and ballads (perhaps in part for the sake of the easy rhymes).
But the colloquial word also resembles Latin mollis "soft," which also had been used classically in a specific pejorative sense in reference to men, "soft, effeminate, unmanly, weak," in Cicero, Livy, etc. A 1629 publication from the Catholic-Protestant theological disputes, "Truth's triumph ouer Trent," written in English with swerves into Latin, at one point describes the denizens of Hell as fideles fornicarios, adulteros, molles, and so forth, and molles is translated parenthetically in the text as "effeminate." Molly House as a term for a brothel frequented by gay men is attested in a court case from 1726.
fem. proper name, an alteration of Sarah (compare Hal from Harry, Moll from Mary, etc.). Sally Lunn cakes (by 1780), sweet and spongy, supposedly were named for the young woman in Bath who first made them and sold them in the streets. Sally Ann as a nickname for Salvation Army is recorded from 1927.
1550s, Doll, an endearing name for a female pet or a mistress, from the familiar form of the fem. proper name Dorothy (q.v.). The -l- for -r- substitution in nicknames is common in English: compare Hal for Harold, Moll for Mary, Sally for Sarah, etc.
From 1610s in old slang in a general sense of "sweetheart, mistress, paramour;" by 1640s it had degenerated to "slattern." Sense of "a child's toy baby" is by 1700. Transferred back to living beings by 1778 in the sense of "pretty, silly woman." By mid-20c. it had come full circle and was used again in slang as an endearing or patronizing name for a young woman.
late 14c., mollificacioun, "act of softening; pacification, an appeasing," from Old French mollificacion (Modern French mollification), from Medieval Latin mollificationem (nominative mollificatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of mollificare (see mollify).
"soft-bodied invertebrate animal, usually with an external shell," 1783, mollusque (modern spelling from 1839), from French mollusque, from Modern Latin Mollusca (see Mollusca), the phylum name. Related: Molluscuous; molluscan.
late 14c., mollifien, "to soften (a substance)," from Old French mollifier or directly from Late Latin mollificare "make soft, mollify" from mollificus "softening," from Latin mollis "soft" (from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft") + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Transferred sense of "soften in temper, appease, pacify" is recorded from early 15c. Related: Mollified; mollifying.