Where does the expression “pell-mell” come from and What does pell mell mean?

Authorities disagree here.

Some have it that, of Old French origin, the expression “pell-mell” was a combination of pesle, a “shovel,” and mesle, “to mix.”

Hence, “mixed as with a shovel.”

where does the expression pell mell come from and what does pell mell mean

But others, though agreeing with the source of the second element, take it that pell was never more than a reduplication.

The French coiners, back in the twelfth century, are not telling.

It was widely borrowed by English writers of the sixteenth century, used by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part I (Act V, Scene i) : “Nor moody Beggars, staruing for a time Of pell-mell hauocke, and confusion.”

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Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.