c. 1300, from Old French powe, poe "paw, fist," of uncertain origin. Evidence points to a Gallo-Roman root form *pauta which probably is related to the source of patten.
"use the hands roughly," c. 1600, from paw (n.). Related: Pawed; pawing. Middle English had pawen "to touch or strike with the paw" (c. 1400).