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paddle (n.)

c. 1400, padell "small, long-handled spade used to remove earth adhering to a plow," probably from Medieval Latin padela, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin patella "small pan, little dish, plate," diminutive of patina (see pan (n.)). Meaning "short oar with a wide blade" (or two, one at each end) is from 1620s. As an instrument used for beating clothes (and slaves, and schoolboys), it is recorded from 1828, American English. As "fin-like forelimb of a sea creature," by 1835. Paddle-ball is attested from 1935.

paddle (v.1)

"to dabble, wade in water," 1520s, probably cognate with Low German paddeln "tramp about," frequentative of padjen "to tramp, to run in short steps," from the source of  pad (v.). Related: Paddled; paddling. Meaning "to move in water by means of paddles" is a different word (see paddle (v.3)).

paddle (v.2)

"to beat with a paddle, spank with the open hand or with some flat object," by 1856, from paddle (n.). Related: Paddled; paddling.

paddle (v.3)

"to move in water by means of paddles," 1670s, from paddle (n.). To paddle one's (own) canoe "do for oneself make one's way by one's own exertions," is from 1828, American English.

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