Unknown, attested since the 1920s. Suggested origins, none of which are accepted by mainstream lexicographers, include:
- from Romani mol (“have value, be worth”)
- from Irish moll óir (“heap of gold”) However, this is unlikely because of the difference in pronunciation.
- from French moulin (“mill”)
- from Sanskrit मूल (mūla, “capital, principal”)
- coined by Chuck Green, a friend of Damon Runyon
- IPA(key): /ˈmuːˌlɑː/
- (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmuː.lə/
- (MLE) IPA(key): /ˈmyː.lɑ/, /ˈmuː.lɑ/, /ˈmʊ.lɑ/
- Rhymes: -uːlə
- Rhymes: -uːlə(r) (in non-rhotic accents)
- ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Ed.
- ^ Henry Hitchings, The Secret Life of Words: How English Became English →ISBN, page 323
- ^ Daniel Cassidy, The Secret Language of the Crossroads: How the Irish Invented Slang
- ^ “Cayoosh”, in cayoosh.net, accessed 23 January 2019, archived from the original on 5 August 2011
- ^ Attributed to Mario Pei by William Safire, 6/8/2003 "On Language" column in the New York Times.