I have long believed that this Catalan dish was named for the actual implement in which it was prepared. The Oxford Companion to Food, along with countless other sources, appear to be laboring under that "misconception" as well. But I made the mistake of saying this to a chef friend and was immediately made aware of my ignorance on the subject. Long story short, he held forth that the word paella was a contraction of > or "for her." It seems that both could be right, in a sense. If someone originally made the pan "for her" and the typical contents inherited the name, it wouldn't surprise me at all.
Do any of you hounds have an opinion or firmly held belief on this topic?