"maid," mid-15c., especially in reference to Joan of Arc (called in Old French la pucelle from c.1423), according to French sources from Vulgar Latin *pulicella "maid" (cf. Italian pulcella), diminutive of Latin pulla, fem. of pullus "young animal" (see foal (n.)), but there are difficulties with this derivation. Also in English, 16c., "a drab, a slut."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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