PADDLE, (i) A verb, meaning to splash, dabble or play about in water with the feet or hands. (2) A species of oar, with a broad flat blade and short handle, used without a rowlock for propelling canoes or other lightly-built craft (see Canoe). (3) \ small spade-like implement, apparently first used to clear a ploughshare from clods of earth. The verb seems to be a frequentative form of "pad," to walk, cognate with "path," or of "pat," to strike gently, an onomatopoeic word; it may have been influenced by the Fr. patrouiller, in much the same sense. The verb may have given rise to "paddle," an oar, an easy transition in sense; but the New English Dictionary identifies this with the word for a small spade, which occurs earher than the verb, and seems to have no connexion in sense with it. The implement was known in the 17th and 18th centuries also as " spaddle," a diminutive of " spade," but " paddle " occurs in this sense as early as 1407. The term " paddle " has been applied to many objects and implements resembling the oar in its broad-bladed end: e.g. a shovel used in mixing materials in glass-making, in brick-making, etc., and also to the float-boards in the paddle-wheel of a steamboat or the wheel of a watermill.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)