late 15c., mappe "bundle of coarse yarn, cloth, etc., fastened to the end of a stick for cleaning or spreading pitch on a ship's decks," perhaps from Walloon (French) mappe "napkin," from Latin mappa "napkin" (see map (n.)). Modern spelling by 1660s. General sense, of such an implement for cleaning floors, windows, etc., is from 1610s. Of smaller utensils of the same sort used for cleaning dishes, etc., by 1869. Of anything having the shape or appearance of a mop (especially hair), by 1847. Grose ["Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1788] has mopsqueezer "A maid servant, particularly a housemaid."
"rub or wipe with or as with a mop," 1709 (in mop up), from mop (n.). Related: Mopped; mopping.
a type of woman's indoor cap with a bag-shaped crown and a broad band and frills, 1795 (as simply mob, 1748), from cap (n.) + obsolete mob (n.) "negligent attire" (1660s), earlier "a strumpet" (earlier form mab, 1550s), which is related to the obsolete verb mob "to tousle the hair, to dress untidily" (1660s), and perhaps is ultimately from mop (n.), but has been influenced by Mab as a female name. Dutch has a similar compound, mopmuts, but the relationship between it and the English word is uncertain.
1580s, a term of endearment, from mop, playful name for a baby or a doll (mid-15c.; see moppet). By 1700 as "an untidy woman" (provincial).
1560s, "to move and act unconsciously;" 1580s, "to be listless and apathetic," the sound of the word perhaps somehow suggestive of low feelings (compare mop (v.) "make a wry mouth" (1560s); Low German mopen "to sulk," Dutch moppen "to grumble, to grouse," Danish maabe, dialectal Swedish mopa "to mope"). Related: Moped; moping; mopey; mopish.
endearing term for a baby, a girl, etc., c. 1600," also "puppet made of cloth, rag-baby" (Johnson, 1755), from Middle English moppe "little child, baby doll" (mid-15c.) + -et, diminutive suffix. The Middle English word also meant "simpleton, fool," and may have been cognate with Low German mop "simpleton" [Barnhart]. Or, if "baby doll" is the original sense in Middle English, perhaps it is from Latin mappa "napkin, tablecloth," hence "rag doll."
Non-nautical meaning "anything used for mopping up" is from 1787; as "cloth or sponge on a handle to cleanse the mouth, etc.," from 1854. Slang meaning "a sailor" first attested 1798, short for swabber "member of a ship's crew assigned to swab decks" (1590s), which by c. 1600 was being used in a broader sense of "one who behaves like a low-ranking sailor, one fit only to use a swab."
1845, U.S. Southern, from ragged + -y (2). Raggedy Ann stories first were published in 1918, based on the kind, adventurous, mop-haired redheaded rag-doll character created by U.S. illustrator Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938). The tangle of tales about the origin of the doll and the name probably are mostly inventions to clothe sorrow's grieving-shrine for Marcella Gruelle (1902-1915) and best left in peace.
also dishcloth, "cloth for washing dishes," 1828, from dish (n.) + cloth. It relegated earlier dish-clout (1520s) to dialect. Dish-rag is by 1839. All have been taken as types of limpness or weakness. Dish-mop, "bundle of threads or cloth scraps fixed securely on a stick," used when the dish-waster is hotter than the hands can bear, is by 1856.