Maglio is a surname of Italian origin and ultimately derived from the Latin malleo- and malleus with a translation of mallet or hammer. The surname falls into the category of occupation names, the other categories being patronymic, geographic and descriptive. Translation and origins of surnames is not an exact science as language changes with time, location and necessity.
One translation of the name Maglio is ‘wooden mallet’ for the slaughtering of cows. While a mallet is/was used in the slaughtering process, caution should be exercised in assigning the origin there. Each type of hammer in Italian has a unique name. The mazza is a sledgehammer or any hammer used in the working of stone. The martello is the more typical hammer used in woodworking. The maglio is a mallet specifically used in metalworking.
As we look at variations of the name we can see a larger picture emerge. Magli is the plural form and means mallets. Magliare is ‘to hit with a hammer’ and maglietto is a gavel. Another set of variations gives a different grouping of definitions. Maglia is mesh, maglione means sweater and maglieria means knitting. Two sets of words with similar spelling seem unrelated until we look at cotta di maglia. Cotta di maglia is chainmail. The interwoven forged metal rings of chainmail are assembled in a pattern that resembles knitting. In this light a maglio is a mallet specifically used for the creation of chainmail (maglia).
Two towns in Italy share the Maglio naming, Magliolo in the Liguria region and Maglie in the Puglia region. The coat of arms for each town tells a similar story on the origin of the name. The coat of arms for Magliolo shows a hammer raised above an anvil, reinforcing the metalworking definition. The coat of arms for Maglie contains three interwoven rings like links in a chain.
An early precursor to croquet was a game called pallamaglio which originated near Naples, Italy. Pallamaglio literally means ball-mallet. The game found its way into France as paille-maille in the court of King Louis XIV, who created a playing field in the garden of Tuileries palace. Not to be outdone King Charles II created a field in London at St James’ Park. There is now a street there (and a cigarette) that derived its name from the English version of the game – Pall Mall. By the 18th century the word mall took on the meaning of walkway or promenade (as in the National Mall in Washington, DC) and today means shopping plaza. The next time you are enjoying a leisurely stroll past Cinnabon and the Sunglass Hut you can thank the Italian word for mallet – Maglio.
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