c. 1200, "kind, sort, variety," from Anglo-French manere, Old French maniere "fashion, method, manner, way; appearance, bearing; custom" (12c., Modern French manière), from Vulgar Latin *manaria (source of Spanish manera, Portuguese maneira, Italian maniera), from fem. of Latin manuarius "belonging to the hand," from manus "hand" (from PIE root *man- (2) "hand"). The French word also was borrowed by Dutch (manier), German (manier), Swedish (maner).
Meaning "customary practice" is from c. 1300. Senses of "way of doing something; a personal habit or way of doing; way of conducting oneself toward others" are from c. 1300. Meaning "specific nature, form, way something happens" is mid-14c. Of literature from 1660s. Most figurative meanings derive from the original sense "method of handling" which was extended when the word was used to translate Latin modus "method." Phrase manner of speaking is recorded from 1530s. To the manner born ("Hamlet" I iv.15) generally is used incorrectly and means "destined by birth to be subject to the custom."