a. A short-handled hammer, usually with a cylindrical head of wood, used chiefly to drive a chisel or wedge.
b. A similar tool with a rubber, leather, or plastic head, used to strike a surface without damaging it.
2. Sports A long-handled implement used to strike a ball, as in croquet and polo.
3. Music A light hammer with a rounded head for striking a percussion instrument.
[Middle English mailet, mallet, from Old French maillet, diminutive of mail, maul; see MAUL.]
(click for a larger image)mallet
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.