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A mill is usually a place where something is ground to powder. The best known mills are mills that grind corn to flour but there were Gunpowder Mills too. The term became associated with factory or manufacture so that Cotton Mills, Woollen Mills, Paper Mills and even Steel Mills came to be known.

It was probably the association with the motive power that caused the shift. Mills (corn) were powered by either wind or water and so we get Windmill and Watermill. When this power was used for something else, the word mill remained attached.

Mills have featured richly in folk song and dance. The iconic song Windmills and the Morris Dance Maid of the Mill being two examples.