mid-13c., meallen "to strike, beat, or bruise with a heavy weapon," from Middle English mealle (mid-13c.) "mace, wooden club, heavy hammer" (see maul (n.)). It has gradually lost its association with hammering. To maul through "pierce with a pointed weapon" is attested by mid-14c.; and compare the meaning "split (rails) with wedges and a maul" (1680s). The meaning "damage seriously, mangle" is recorded by 1690s. Related: Mauled; mauling.