"planned movement of troops or warship," 1758, from French manoeuvre "manipulation, maneuver," from Old French manovre "manual labor" 13c.), from Medieval Latin manuopera (source of Spanish maniobra, Italian manovra), from manuoperare "work with the hands," from Latin manu operari, from manu, ablative of manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand") + operari "to work, operate" (from PIE root *op- "to work, produce in abundance"). The same word had been borrowed from French into Middle English in a sense "hand-labor" (late 15c.). General meaning "artful plan, adroit movement" is from 1774. Related: Maneuvers.
1777, from maneuver (n.), or else from French manœuvrer "work, work with one's hands; carry out, prepare" (12c.), from Medieval Latin manuoperare. Originally in a military sense. Figurative use from 1801. Related: Maneuvered; maneuvering.
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