The term "mangonel" literlally means "engine of war." It is a ballistic device, usually
some type of artillery. In other words, a catapult. But "catapult" is a more general word
that includes a broad range of things that use mechanical means to shoot a projectile,
including slingshots and aircraft carrier launch systems. So a mangonel is a unique type of catapult.
The word Mangonel derives from the ancient Greek word "Manganon", literally meaning "engine of war".
The Romans called it a Manganum. In pre-medieval French the word Manganum was changed to Manganeau,
and the English changed that to Mangonel in the 1300s.
The history gets a little sketchy in the middle ages, but some historians believe that "mangonel" was
shortened to the word "gonnel" about the same time that cannons were being developed, and later still,
"gonnel" was shortened to "gun." And to this day, in the military a gun is strictly big artillery.
(Rifles and pistols are referred to as "weapons", NOT "guns".)
The three most common types of ancient mangonels are the Greek Ballista, The Roman Onager, and the Trebuchet.
In France, the word Mangonel is used for a Trebuchet that uses a fixed counterweight for power. (The other
kind of trebuchet, the hanging counterweight type, is called a "Trebuchet". Go figure!)
The English use the term Mangonel and Onager interchangeably for the Roman single-arm torsion machine.
The Greek catapult, probably the first machine to be called a mangonel, was also known as the Ballista
and is where we get the word "ballistic".