"to mutilate, to hack or cut by random, repeated blows," c. 1400, from Anglo-French mangler, frequentative of Old French mangoner "cut to pieces," a word of uncertain origin, perhaps connected with Old French mahaignier "to maim, mutilate, wound" (see maim). The figurative meaning "to destroy the symmetry or completeness of" is from early 15c.; as "to mispronounce (words), garble," from 1530s. Related: Mangled; mangler; mangling.
machine for smoothing and pressing linen and cotton clothes after washing, 1774, from Dutch mangel (18c.), apparently short for mangelstok, from stem of mangelen to mangle, from Middle Dutch mange, which probably is somehow from to Vulgar Latin *manganum "machine" (see mangonel), "but its history has not been precisely traced" [OED].
The possession of a mangle, for the use of which a small sum was charged, is, among the poorer classes of English cottagers, a common means of earning money. The question 'Has your mother sold her mangle?' (quot. 1836-7) was at one time the commonest piece of 'chaff' used by London street-boys. [OED]
updated on November 14, 2018