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 ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus