also mawkin, late 13c., a jocular or contemptuous term for a servant-woman or kitchen-servant, a woman of the lower classes, or a slattern, a loose woman; from the fem. proper name Malkyn, a diminutive of Mault "Maud" (see Matilda). It also is attested from c. 1200 as the proper name of a female specter. Sense of "untidy woman" probably led to the extended meaning "mop, bundle of rags on a stick" (used to clean ovens, artillery pieces, etc.), c. 1400.
Attested as the name of a cat since 1670s (earlier as Grimalkin, late 16c.); compare Serbo-Croatian mačka "cat," originally a pet-name form of Maria. Also used in Scotland and northern England as the name of a hare (1724).
MALKINTRASH. One in dismal garb. [Grose, "Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," London, 1785]
updated on November 08, 2018