a. A heavy, long-handled hammer used especially to drive stakes, piles, or wedges.
b. A heavy hammer having a wedge-shaped head and used for splitting logs.
a. A play in rugby in which a mass of players gathers around a ball carrier being tackled and attempts to gain possession of the ball when it is released.
b. The mass of players during such a play.
tr.v. mauled, maul·ing, mauls
a. To injure or mutilate, as by scratching or beating: stories of hikers mauled by wild animals; a boxer who mauled his opponent. See Synonyms at mangle1.
b. To defeat handily: The home team was mauled in the season opener.
2. To handle or treat roughly, causing damage: The package was mauled by the careless messenger.
3. To split (wood) with a maul and wedge.
[Middle English malle, from Old French mail, from Latin malleus; see melə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
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.