Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An ornamental silk band hung as an ecclesiastical vestment on the left arm near the wrist.
  • n. A subdivision of an ancient Roman legion, containing 60 or 120 men.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A handful.
  • n. A division of the Roman army numbering 60 or 120 men exclusive of officers, any small body of soldiers; a company.
  • n. Originally, a napkin; later, an ornamental band or scarf worn upon the left arm as a part of the vestments of a priest in the Roman Catholic Church, and sometimes worn in the English Church service.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A handful.
  • n. A division of the Roman army numbering sixty men exclusive of officers; any small body of soldiers; a company.
  • n. Originally, a napkin; later, an ornamental band or scarf worn upon the left arm as a part of the vestments of a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. It is sometimes worn in the English Church service.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A handful.
  • n. In Roman antiquity, a military company consisting normally of 120 men in three out of the four classes of infantry (velites, hastati, and principes), and of 60 men in the fourth (triarii), with two (first and second) centurions and a standard-bearer. Three maniples constituted a cohort.
  • n. Hence A company or any small body of soldiers.
  • n. In the Western Church, one of the eucharistic vestments, consisting of a short, narrow strip, similar in material, width, and color to the stole.
  • n. In the middle ages, a garment worn under the armor.

Etymologies

Middle English, from Old French, from Latin manipulus, handful : manus, hand; see man-2 in Indo-European roots + -pulus, perhaps -ful; see pelə-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English maniple, from Old French maniple, from Latin maniplus, manipulus "handful, maniple", derived from manus "hand". (Wiktionary)

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