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    M — madly (adv.)


    13th letter of the English alphabet, from Greek mu, from Semitic mem. It represents a very stable and unchanging sound in Indo-European, described by Johnson as "a kind of humming inward." The Roman symbol for 1,000; sometimes used in this sense in English 15c.-16c.; but in late 20c. newspaper headlines it stands for million. As a thickness of type, from 1680s (commonly spelled out, em).ETD M.2


    childish or colloquial shortening of mamma, by 1823. "Also applied colloq. to a middle-aged or elderly woman, esp. one in authority" [OED].ETD ma.2


    also maam, 1660s, colloquial shortening of madam (q.v.). At one time the ordinary respectful form of address to a married woman; later restricted to the queen and royal princesses or used by servants to their mistresses. In U.S., used especially in answers, after yes or no.ETD ma'am.2


    Egyptian goddess, literally (in Egyptian) "truth."ETD Maat.2


    fem. proper name, shortening of Amabell, Amabillia (c. 1200), fem. formations from Latin amabilis "loving; lovable; pleasant, attractive," from amare "to love" (see Amy). In the U.S. it enjoyed its greatest popularity as a given name for girl babies from c. 1884 to 1895.ETD Mabel.2


    common conjoined prefix in Scottish and Irish names, from Old Celtic *makko-s "son." Cognate *makwos "son" produced Old Welsh map, Welsh mab, ap "son;" also probably cognate with Old English mago "son, attendant, servant," Old Norse mögr "son," Gothic magus "boy, servant," Old English mægð "maid" (see maiden).ETD Mac-.2

    Formerly often abbreviated to M' and followed by a capital letter, or spelled out Mac and then rarely used with a capital; as, M'Donald, Macdonald, McDonald.ETD Mac-.3


    casual, generic term of address for a man, 1928, from Irish and Gaelic mac, a common element in Scottish and Irish names (literally "son of;" see Mac-); hence used generally from 1650s for "a Celtic Irishman."ETD Mac.2

    macabre (adj.)

    early 15c., in Macabrees daunce, daunce of Machabree, a kind of morality show or allegorical representation of death and his victims, from Old French (danse) Macabré "(dance) of Death" (1376), which is of uncertain origin.ETD macabre (adj.).2

    John Lydgate (c. 1370—c. 1451), the monk/poet who first translated it into English, seems to have regarded it as the name of the French author, and perhaps it was a French surname Macabré. Or perhaps it is from Medieval Latin (Chorea) Machabæorum, literally "dance of the Maccabees" (leaders of the Jewish revolt against Syro-Hellenes; see Maccabees). If so, the association with the dance of death (a favorite subject of literature and art in the Middle Ages) would be from vivid descriptions of the martyrdom of the Maccabees in the Apocryphal books.ETD macabre (adj.).3

    The abstracted sense of "characterized by gruesomeness" is attested 1842 in French, by 1889 in English. Related: Macaberesque.ETD macabre (adj.).4


    name of a genus of Old World monkeys, Modern Latin, from Portuguese macaca, fem. of macaco, a name from an African language of the Congo (compare macaque).ETD Macaca.2

    macadam (n.)

    "material of which macadamized pavement is made," 1826, earlier as an adjective (1824), named for its inventor, Scottish civil engineer John L. McAdam (1756-1836), who developed a method of leveling roads and paving them with gravel and outlined the process in his pamphlet "Remarks on the Present System of Road-Making" (1822). Originally the word meant road material consisting of a solid mass of stones of nearly uniform size laid down in layers (McAdam did not approve of the use of binding materials or rollers). The idea of mixing tar with the gravel began 1880s.ETD macadam (n.).2

    macadamization (n.)

    "process of laying roads according to the system of John L. McAdam;" 1824, noun of action from macadamize (see macadam).ETD macadamization (n.).2

    macadamize (v.)

    "to cover (a road) with gravel and broken stone according to the system of John L. McAdam," 1824 (implied in macadamizer), from macadam + -ize. In early use also mcadamize. Related: Macadamized; macadamizing. Also macadamise, macadamised.ETD macadamize (v.).2

    macadamia (n.)

    Australian evergreen tree, commercially important for its edible nut, 1904, from Modern Latin (1858), named for Scotland-born chemist Dr. John Macadam, secretary of the Victoria Philosophical Institute, Australia, + abstract noun ending -ia.ETD macadamia (n.).2

    macaque (n.)

    East Indian monkey, 1757, from French macaque, from Portuguese macaco "monkey," a Bantu word brought from Africa to Brazil (where it was applied 17c. to a type of monkey there). Introduced as a genus name 1840.ETD macaque (n.).2

    macaronic (adj.)

    1610s, in literature, in reference to a form of verse consisting of vernacular words in a Latin context with Latin endings; applied loosely to verse in which two or more languages are jumbled together with little regard to syntax but so constructed as to be intelligible; from Modern Latin macaronicus (coined 1517 by Teofilo Folengo, who popularized the style in Italy), from dialectal Italian maccarone (see macaroni), in reference to the mixture of words in the verse: "quoddam pulmentum farina, caseo, botiro compaginatum, grossum, rude, et rusticanum" [Folengo].ETD macaronic (adj.).2

    macaroni (n.)

    "tube-shaped food made of dried wheaten paste" [Klein], 1590s, from southern Italian dialectal maccaroni (Italian maccheroni), plural of maccarone, name for a kind of pasty food made of flour, cheese, and butter, possibly from maccare "bruise, batter, crush," which is of unknown origin, or from late Greek makaria "food made from barley."ETD macaroni (n.).2

    Originally known as a leading food of Italy (especially Naples and Genoa), it was used in English by 1769 to mean "a fop, a dandy" ("typical of elegant young men" would be the sense in "Yankee Doodle") because it was an exotic dish in England at a time when certain young men who had traveled the continent were affecting French and Italian fashions and accents (and were much mocked for it).ETD macaroni (n.).3

    There is said to have been a Macaroni Club in Britain by 1764, composed of young men who sought to introduce elegancies of dress and bearing from the continent, which was the immediate source of this usage in English. Hence the extended use of macaroni as "a medley; something extravagant to please idle fancy" (by 1884).ETD macaroni (n.).4

    macaroon (n.)

    1610s, "small sweet cake made of ground almonds (instead of flour) and whites of eggs," from French macaron (16c.), from dialectal Italian maccarone, the name of a kind of pasty food made of flour, cheese, and butter (see macaroni). The French meaning is said to have been introduced 1552 by Rabelais. The -oon ending was conventional in 15c.-17c. English to add emphasis to borrowings of French nouns ending in stressed -on.ETD macaroon (n.).2

    Macassar (adj.)

    name of a district on the island of Celebes (modern Sulawesi), 1660s, from native Mangkasara. Especially in Macassar oil (1809), trade name of a hair tonic "grandiloquently advertised in the early part of the 19th century" [OED] and said to be made from materials obtained from Macassar.ETD Macassar (adj.).2


    from Portuguese corruption of southern Chinese ama (name of a patron goddess of sailors) + ngao "bay, port."ETD Macau.2

    macaw (n.)

    species of large, long-tailed American parrots, 1660s, from Portuguese macau, from a word in a Brazilian language, perhaps Tupi macavuana, which may be the name of a type of palm tree the fruit of which the birds eat.ETD macaw (n.).2


    masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.ETD Macbeth.2


    line of Jewish princes who ruled in Judea, late 14c., from Late Latin Maccabæus, surname given to Judas, third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, leader of the religious revolt against Antiochus IV, 175-166 B.C.E. Usually connected with Hebrew maqqabh "hammer," but Klein thinks it an inexact transliteration of Hebrew matzbi "general, commander of an army." Related: Maccabean.ETD Maccabees.2


    Gaelic Mac Dhuibh "son of Dubh," literally "black."ETD Macduff.2

    mace (n.2)

    "spice made from dry outer husk of nutmeg," late 14c., from Old French macis (in English taken as a plural and stripped of its -s), a word of uncertain origin, sometimes said to be a scribal error for Latin macir, the name of a red spicy bark from India, but OED finds this etymology unlikely.ETD mace (n.2).2

    Mace (n.3)

    chemical spray originally used in riot control, 1966, technically Chemical Mace, a proprietary name (General Ordnance Equipment Corp, Pittsburgh, Pa.), probably so called for its use as a weapon, in reference to mace (n.1). The verb, "to spray with Mace," is attested by 1968. Related: Maced; macing.ETD Mace (n.3).2

    mace (n.1)

    "heavy one-handed metal weapon, often with a spiked head, for striking," c. 1300, from Old French mace "a club, scepter" (Modern French massue), from Vulgar Latin *mattea (source also of Italian mazza, Spanish maza "mace"), from Latin mateola (in Late Latin also matteola) "a kind of mallet." The Latin word perhaps is cognate with Sanskrit matyam "harrow, club, roller," Old Church Slavonic motyka, Russian motyga "hoe," Old High German medela "plow" [de Vaan, Klein].ETD mace (n.1).2

    As a ceremonial symbol of authority or office, a scepter or staff having somewhat the form of a mace of war, it is attested from mid-14c. Related: Mace-bearer.ETD mace (n.1).3


    c. 1300, Macedone, from Latin Macedonius "Macedonian," from Greek Makedones "the Macedonians," literally "highlanders" or "the tall ones," related to makednos "long, tall," makros "long, large" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin"). Macédoine "mixed cut fruit or vegetables" is by 1846, from French, said to be a reference to the diversity of people in Alexander's empire.ETD Macedonia.2


    c. 1300 (n.) "native or inhabitant of ancient Macedonia," from Latin Macedonius (see Macedonia) + -an. From 1580s as an adjective, "belonging or relating to ancient Macedonia." The people of Alexander the Great; they used a Greek language and were akin to the Greeks, and in Lower Macedonia, especially along the coasts where the two peoples were in contact, they were largely Hellenized, but in classical times among the Greeks (who were sensitive about identity) seem to have been generally considered foreigners, though not barbarians, due to the important differences, such as government by monarchy.ETD Macedonian.2

    macerate (v.)

    late 15c., "soften and separate by steeping in a fluid," a back-formation from maceration, or else from Latin maceratus, past participle of macerare "to make soft or tender; soften by steeping or soaking;" in transferred sense "to weaken" in body or mind, "to waste away, enervate," which is related to maceria "garden wall," originally "of kneaded clay," probably from PIE *mak-ero-, suffixed form of root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit," but there are phonetic difficulties. Related: Macerated; macerating.ETD macerate (v.).2

    maceration (n.)

    late 15c., "act or process of making lean or thin," from Latin macerationem (nominative maceratio) "a steeping, soaking; a making soft or tender," noun of action from past-participle stem of macerare "to make soft or tender; soften by steeping or soaking;" in transferred sense "to weaken" in body or mind, "to waste away, enervate" (see macerate). Meaning "act or process of almost dissolving by steeping in a fluid" is from 1610s.ETD maceration (n.).2


    measure of speed relative to the speed of sound (technically Mach number), 1937, named in honor of Austrian physicist Ernst Mach (1838-1916).ETD Mach.2

    machete (n.)

    "heavy knife or cutlass," used as a weapon and tool by the Spanish in the Americas, 1590s (in pseudo-Spanish form macheto), from Spanish machete "a chopping knife," probably a diminutive of macho "sledge hammer," alteration of mazo "club," which is probably [Barnhart] a dialectal variant of maza "mallet," from Vulgar Latin *mattea "war club" (see mace (n.1)). An alternative explanation traces macho to Latin marculus "a small hammer," diminutive of marcus "hammer," from a base parallel to that of Latin malleus (see mallet).ETD machete (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "battle, war, contest, fighting, warfare," from Latinized form of Greek -makhia, from makhē "a battle, fight," related to makhesthai "to fight." Beekes suspects it is from an isolated root, perhaps Pre-Greek: "In the domain of fighting and battle, old inherited expressions can hardly be expected."ETD -machy.2


    Florentine statesman and author (1469-1527); see Machiavellian. His name was Englished 16c.-18c. as Machiavel.ETD Machiavelli.2

    Machiavellian (adj.)

    "cunning, deceitful, habitually duplicitous, unscrupulous, destitute of political morality," 1570s, from Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527), Florentine statesman and author of "Il Principe," a work advising rulers to place advantage above morality. A word of abuse in English well before his works were translated ("The Discourses" in 1636, "The Prince" in 1640), in part because his books were Indexed by the Church, in part because of French attacks on him (such as Gentillet's, translated into English 1602). Related: Machiavellianism.ETD Machiavellian (adj.).2

    machine (v.)

    mid-15c., "decide, resolve," from Old French and Latin usages, from Latin machina "machine, engine, military machine; device, trick; instrument," from Greek makhana, Doric variant of Attic mēkhanē "device, tool; contrivance, cunning" (see machine (n.)). Meaning "to apply machinery to, to make or form on or by the aid of a machine" is from 1878. Related: Machined; machining.ETD machine (v.).2

    machinable (adj.)

    "capable of being cut by machine-tools," 1896, from machine (v.) + -able. Related: Machinability.ETD machinable (adj.).2

    machination (n.)

    late 15c., machinacion, "a plotting, an intrigue," from Old French machinacion "plot, conspiracy, scheming, intrigue" and directly from Latin machinationem (nominative machinatio) "device, contrivance, machination," noun of action from past-participle stem of machinari "to contrive skillfully, to design; to scheme, to plot," from machina "machine, engine; device trick" (see machine (n.)). Related: Machinations.ETD machination (n.).2

    machine (n.)

    1540s, "structure of any kind," from Middle French machine "device, contrivance," from Latin machina "machine, engine, military machine; device, trick; instrument" (source also of Spanish maquina, Italian macchina), from Greek makhana, Doric variant of Attic mēkhanē "device, tool, machine;" also "contrivance, cunning," traditionally (Watkins) from PIE *magh-ana- "that which enables," from root *magh- "to be able, have power." But Beekes, on formal grounds, objects to the connection to words in Germanic and Slavic. He finds the Greek word isolated and is convinced that it is Pre-Greek.ETD machine (n.).2

    Main modern sense of "device made of moving parts for applying mechanical power" (1670s) probably grew out of mid-17c. senses of "apparatus, appliance" and "military siege-tower." It gradually came to be applied to an apparatus that works without the strength or skill of the workman.ETD machine (n.).3

    From 17c.-19c. also "a vehicle; a stage- or mail-coach; a ship," and, from 1901, "a motor-car." Also in late 19c. slang the word was used for both "penis" and "vagina," one of the few so honored.ETD machine (n.).4

    The political sense "a strict organization of the working members of a political party to secure a predominating influence for themselves and their associates" is U.S. slang, attested by 1876. Machine age, a time notable for the extensive use of mechanical devices, is attested by 1882, though there is this:ETD machine (n.).5

    Machine for living (in) "house" translates Le Corbusier's machine à habiter (1923).ETD machine (n.).6

    machinate (v.)

    c. 1600, "to lay plots, intrigue," a back-formation from machination, or else from Latin machinatus, past participle of machinari "to contrive skillfully; to design, scheme, plot." Transitive sense of "to plan, contrive, form (a plot, scheme, etc.)" also is from c. 1600. Related: Machinated; machinating; machinator.ETD machinate (v.).2

    machinator (n.)

    "plotter, schemer. one who schemes with evil designs," 1610s, from Latin machinator, agent noun from past-participle stem of machinari "to design, contrive, plot," from machina "machine, engine; device, trick" (see machine (n.)).ETD machinator (n.).2

    machine-gun (n.)

    "a gun which by means of a mechanism delivers a continuous fire of projectiles," 1870, from machine (n.) + gun (n.). As a verb, "to shoot down or kill by means of a machine gun," it is attested by 1915. Related: Machine-gunned; machine-gunning; machine-gunner.ETD machine-gun (n.).2

    Though in the light of subsequent advancements Gatling's invention of 1862 is not considered a modern machine-gun.ETD machine-gun (n.).3

    machine-made (adj.)

    "made by a machine or machinery" (opposed to man-made), by 1837, from machine (n.) + made.ETD machine-made (adj.).2

    machinery (n.)

    1680s; from machine (n.) + -ery. Originally theatrical, "devices for creating stage effects" (which also was a sense of Greek mēkhanē); meaning "machines or parts of machines considered collectively," is attested from 1731. Transferred meaning "any complex system of (non-mechanical) means to carry on a particular work" is by 1770. Middle English had machinament "a contrivance" (early 15c.).ETD machinery (n.).2

    machine-shop (n.)

    "workshop in which machines or parts of machines are made and repaired," 1827, from machine (n.) + shop (n.).ETD machine-shop (n.).2

    machinist (n.)

    1706, "engineer, mechanical inventor, constructor of machines and engines," a hybrid from machine (n.) + -ist. Meaning "machine operator" is attested from 1879; in U.S. Navy ratings, "an engine-room artificer or attendant," by 1880.ETD machinist (n.).2

    machismo (n.)

    "male virility, masculine pride," 1940, from American Spanish machismo, from Spanish macho "male" (see macho) + ismo (see -ism).ETD machismo (n.).2


    1928 (n.) "tough guy," from Spanish macho "male animal," noun use of adjective meaning "masculine, virile," from Latin masculus (see masculine). As an adjective, "ostensibly manly and virile," attested in English by 1959 (Norman Mailer).ETD macho.2


    in Irish and pseudo-Irish expressions, by 1829, from Irish-Gaelic mo chroidhe "(of) my heart," hence "my dear!" The once-popular song "Mother Machree" ("I kiss the dear fingers so toil worn for me. Oh God bless you and keep you, Mother Machree") was written in 1910, popularized by John McCormack (1911) and other Irish tenors.ETD machree.2

    Machu Picchu

    15c. Inca citadel high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, from Quechua (Inca) machu "old man" + pikchu "peak."ETD Machu Picchu.2


    proprietary name for a brand of heavy automobile trucks, named for brothers John M., Augustus F., and William C. Mack, who established Mack Brothers Company, N.Y., N.Y., in 1902. Their trucks have been formally known as Mack Trucks from 1910.ETD Mack.2


    river in Canada, named for Scottish fur trader and explorer Sir Alexander Mackenzie, who discovered and explored it 1789.ETD Mackenzie.2

    mackerel (n.)

    edible fish of the North Atlantic (Scomber scombrus), c. 1300, from Old French maquerel "mackerel" (Modern French maquereau), of unknown origin; perhaps so called from the dark blotches with which the fish is marked, from Latin macula "spot, stain" (see macula). But the word is apparently identical with Old French maquerel "pimp, procurer, broker, agent, intermediary" (itself attested in English in this sense by early 15c.), a word from a Germanic source (compare Middle Dutch makelaer "broker," from Old Frisian mek "marriage," from maken "to make").ETD mackerel (n.).2

    The connection would be obscure, but medieval people had imaginative notions about the erotic habits of beasts. The fish approach the shore in shoals in summertime to spawn. Compare ancient Greek aitnaios "an unknown fish celebrated for its marital constancy;" alphēstēs, the wrasse, "a fish with a singular and unsavoury reputation ... a byword for the incontinent and lewd" (both in Thompson, who also notes that the hermaphroditic nature of certain fishes, discovered by modern naturalists, was known to Aristotle). The exclamation holy mackerel is attested from 1876.ETD mackerel (n.).3


    port and island in Michigan in the straits connecting lakes Michigan and Huron, from Mackinac, from Ojibway (Algonquian) mitchimakinak "many turtles," from mishiin- "be many" + mikinaak "snapping turtle."ETD Mackinaw.2

    As a type of flat-bottomed, flat-sided boat with a sharp prow and a square stern, 1812, so called because used on the Great Lakes. As a type of heavy blanket given to the Indians by the U.S. government, it is attested from 1822, so called because the fort there was for many years the most remote U.S. spot in the Northwest and many Native Americans received their supplies there..ETD Mackinaw.3

    mackintosh (n.)

    waterproof outer coat or cloak, 1836, named for Charles Macintosh (1766-1843), inventor of a waterproofing process (patent #4804, June 17, 1823). The Mcintosh type of apple was named for John McIntosh of Upper Canada, who began selling them in 1835. The surname is from Gaelic Mac an toisich "Son of the chieftain." As a name of a type of computer it is attested from 1982.ETD mackintosh (n.).2

    macle (n.)

    also mackle, "a spot, a blemish," 1706, from French macle "a spot," from Latin macula (see macula). Also as a verb (1590s). Related: Macled; mackled; mackling.ETD macle (n.).2

    macrame (n.)

    ornamental trimming made by leaving long fringes of thread and knotting the threads together in a geometrical pattern, 1865, from French macramé (19c.), said to be from Turkish maqrama "towel, napkin," from Arabic miqramah "embroidered veil." The thing is older in Europe than the word.ETD macrame (n.).2

    macro (n.)

    1959 in computing sense, shortened from macroinstruction.ETD macro (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "long, abnormally large, on a large scale," taken into English via French and Medieval Latin from Greek makros "long, large," from PIE root *mak- "long, thin."ETD macro-.2

    macrobiotic (adj.)

    also macro-biotic, 1797, "tending to prolong life," 1797, from Greek makrobiotikos "long-lived," from makros "long" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin") + bios "life" (from PIE root *gwei- "to live"). The specific reference to a Zen Buddhist dietary system dates from 1936. Hence macrobiote "a long-lived person or animal" (1852); macrobiosis "long life, longevity" (1837); macrobiotics "the study of longevity" (by 1832); "theory of macrobiotic diets" (by 1948).ETD macrobiotic (adj.).2

    macrocephalic (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to a large head (of a person)," 1851, from Greek makrokephalos, from makros "large, long" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin") + kephalē "head" (see cephalo-). Related: Macrocephalous "having a long head" (1810); macrocephaly.ETD macrocephalic (adj.).2

    macrocosm (n.)

    c. 1600, "the great world" (the universe, as distinct from the "little world" of man and human societies), from French macrocosme (c. 1300) and directly from Medieval Latin macrocosmus, from Greek makros "large, long" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin") + kosmos "world," also "order, harmonious arrangement" (see cosmos). Compare microcosm. The concept, if not the word, generally is traced to Democritus (5c. B.C.E.). Related: Macrocosmic.ETD macrocosm (n.).2

    macroeconomic (adj.)

    also macro-economic, "pertaining to the economy as a whole," 1938, from macro- + economic.ETD macroeconomic (adj.).2

    macroeconomics (n.)

    also macro-economics, "the science or study of the economy as a whole," by 1946, from macroeconomic; also see -ics.ETD macroeconomics (n.).2

    macroinstruction (n.)

    also macro-instruction, in computing, "a group of programming instructions compressed into a simpler form and appearing as a single instruction," 1959, from macro- + instruction.ETD macroinstruction (n.).2

    macromolecule (n.)

    1886, "molecule consisting of several molecules," a sense now obsolete, from macro- + molecule. Apparently coined in "On Macro-molecules, with the Determinations of the Form of Some of Them," by Anglo-Irish physicist G. Johnstone Stoney (1826—1911). Originally of crystals. Meaning "molecule composed of many atoms" is by 1935, from German makromolekul (1922). Related: Macromolecular (by 1931).ETD macromolecule (n.).2

    macron (n.)

    "short horizontal line placed over a vowel to indicate length," 1827, from Latinized form of Greek makron, neuter of makros "long" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin").ETD macron (n.).2

    macropaedia (n.)

    1974, introduced with the 15th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, for the part of the encyclopedia in which information was presented in full essays, from macro- + ending from encyclopaedia.ETD macropaedia (n.).2

    macrophage (n.)

    "type of large white blood cell with the power to devour foreign debris in the body or other cells or organisms," 1890, from macro- "large" + -phage "eater."ETD macrophage (n.).2

    macrophotography (n.)

    "photography of objects at or larger than actual size without the use of a magnifying lens," 1863, from macro- + photography.ETD macrophotography (n.).2

    macroscopic (adj.)

    "visible to the naked eye," 1841, from macro- + ending from microscopic. Related: Macroscopical; macroscopically.ETD macroscopic (adj.).2

    macrospore (n.)

    in botany, "a spore of large size compared with others," 1859, from macro- "large" + spore (n.).ETD macrospore (n.).2

    macule (n.)

    "blemish, spot," late 15c., from Latin macula "a spot, stain" (see macula), perhaps via French macule. Compare macle.ETD macule (n.).2

    maculate (v.)

    early 15c., maculaten "to spoil, pollute, defile," from Latin maculatus, past participle of maculare "to make spotted, to speckle," from macula "spot, stain" (see macula). Literal meaning "to spot, stain" is by 1640s. Related: Maculated; maculating.ETD maculate (v.).2

    maculate (adj.)

    "spotted, marked with spots," late 15c., from Latin maculatus, past participle of maculare "to make spotted, to speckle," from macula "spot, stain" (see macula). Maculate conception is attested by 1756.ETD maculate (adj.).2

    maculation (n.)

    late 15c., maculacioun, "sexual defilement, sinning," from Latin maculationem (nominative maculatio) "a spotting," noun of action from past-participle stem of maculare "to make spotted," from macula "spot, stain" (see macula). In English, the literal meaning "act of spotting, a staining with spots, state of being spotted, pattern of spots on a plant or animal" is by 1707. Nares, in his "Glossary" of Shakespeare's words (1822) calls it "an uncommon word, not so properly obsolete, as never thoroughly in use."ETD maculation (n.).2

    macula (n.)

    plural maculae, "a spot, blotch," especially on the skin or eye, c. 1400, from Latin macula "spot, stain," used of various spots (sunspots, markings on minerals, etc.), from Proto-Italic *smalto-, which is of uncertain origin. The macula lutea of the eye, the yellow spot of the retina opposite the pupil (the position of the most distinct vision), is from 1848.ETD macula (n.).2

    macular (adj.)

    by 1806, "spotted, exhibiting or characterized by spots," from macula "a spot" + -ar. Meaning "pertaining to the macula lutea of the eye is by 1873.ETD macular (adj.).2

    madding (adj.)

    "becoming mad, acting madly, raging, furious," 1570s, present-participle adjective from obsolete verb mad "to make insane; to become insane" (replaced by madden); now principally in the phrase far from the madding crowd, title of the popular 1874 novel of love and betrayal in rural England by Hardy, who lifted it from "Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife," a line of Gray's "Elegy" (1749), which seems to echo and smooth a line from Drummond of Hawthornden from 1614 ("Farre from the madding Worldling's hoarse discords"). Related: Maddingly.ETD madding (adj.).2

    mad (adv.)

    "strangely, madly," late 14c., from mad (adj.).ETD mad (adv.).2

    madness (n.)

    late 14c., "insanity, lunacy, dementia; rash or irrational conduct, headstrong passion, extreme folly," from mad (adj.) + -ness. Sense of "foolishness" is from early 15c.ETD madness (n.).2

    mad (v.)

    "make furious, enrage," also "be out of one's mind," late 14c., from Old English gemædan "make insane" (see mad (adj.)).ETD mad (v.).2

    mad (adj.)

    late 13c., "disordered in intellect, demented, crazy, insane," from Old English gemædde "out of one's mind" (usually implying also violent excitement), also "foolish, extremely stupid," earlier gemæded "rendered insane," past participle of a lost verb *gemædan "to make insane or foolish," from Proto-Germanic *gamaidjan, demonstrative form of *gamaidaz "changed (for the worse), abnormal" (source also of Old Saxon gimed "foolish," Old High German gimeit "foolish, vain, boastful," Gothic gamaiþs "crippled, wounded," Old Norse meiða "to hurt, maim").ETD mad (adj.).2

    This apparently is from the Germanic intensive prefix *ga- + PIE *moito-, past participle of root *mei- (1) "to change, go, move" (source also of Latin mutare "to change," migrare "to change one's place of residence"). In Middle English usurped the place of the more usual Old English word, wod (see wood (adj.)).ETD mad (adj.).3

    The meanings "beside oneself with excitement or enthusiasm, under the influence of uncontrollable emotion" and "enraged, furious, beside oneself with anger" are attested from early 14c., but the latter was deplored by Rev. John Witherspoon (1781) as an Americanism. It now competes in American English with angry for this sense. Of animals, "affected with rabies, furious from disease" from late 13c.ETD mad (adj.).4

    To do something like mad "recklessly, as if mad or crazy" is by 1650s. Phrase mad as a March hare is attested from 1520s, via notion of breeding season. For mad as a wet hen see hen. For mad as a hatter, see hatter.ETD mad (adj.).5

    Mad money, which a young woman carries for use in getting home when she and her date have a falling out, is attested by 1922; mad scientist, one so eccentric as to be dangerous or evil, is by 1891. Mad Libs, the word game (based on the idea in consequences, etc.), was first published in 1958,ETD mad (adj.).6


    large island lying to the east of and near Africa, from Mogadishu, the name of the city in Somalia, due to an error by Marco Polo in reading Arabic, whereby he thought the name was that of the island. There is no indigenous name for the whole island. Related: Madagascan; Madagascarian; Madagascarene.ETD Madagascar.2


    formal term of address to a lady, 1590s, see madam, which is an earlier borrowing of the same French phrase. Originally a title of respect for a woman of rank, now given to any married woman. It is more formal or affected than madam. OED recommends madam as an English title, madame in reference to foreign women.ETD madame.2


    c. 1300, formal term of address to a lady (a woman of rank or authority, or the mistress of a household), from Old French ma dame, literally "my lady," from Latin mea domina (see Donna, and compare madonna). It became a conventional term of address to women of any degree (but chiefly to the married and matronly); also "a woman of fashion or pretension" (often with a suggestion of disparagement) by 1590s. From 1719 as "a courtesan, a prostitute;" the meaning "female owner or manager of a brothel" is attested by 1871.ETD madam.2

    madarosis (n.)

    "loss of the eyelashes," 1690s, medical Latin, from Greek madarosis "baldness." Related: Madarotic.ETD madarosis (n.).2


    1580s, noun ("person who acts madly or wildly") and adjective ("wild, harum-scarum), from mad (adj.) + cap, used here figuratively for "head." Related: Madcappery. Compare mad-brain "rash or hot-headed person" (1560s).ETD madcap.2

    maddening (adj.)

    "driving to distraction, crazy-making," 1743, present-participle adjective from madden. Related: Maddeningly.ETD maddening (adj.).2

    madden (v.)

    "to drive to distraction, make crazy" (transitive), 1822; earlier in intransitive sense "to be or become mad" (1735), from mad (adj.) + -en (1). Related: Maddened; maddening. The earlier verb was simply mad (14c.), from the adjective.ETD madden (v.).2

    madder (n.)

    type of plant (in modern use Rubia tinctorum) yielding a valuable dyestuff, Old English mædere and Old Norse maðra, from PIE *modhro- "dye plant" (source also of Old High German matara "madder," Polish modry, Czech modry "blue").ETD madder (n.).2

    maddish (adj.)

    "somewhat mad," originally also "of or befitting a madman," 1570s, from mad (adj.) + -ish.ETD maddish (adj.).2

    made (adj.)

    late 14c., "created, wrought, fabricated, constructed" (of words, stories, etc.), from Middle English maked, from Old English macod "made," past participle of macian "to make" (see make (v.)). From 1570s as "artificially produced, formed independently of natural development."ETD made (adj.).2

    To be a made man "placed beyond the reach of want, assured of reward or success" is in Marlowe's "Faust" (1590). To have it made (1955) is American English colloquial. Made-to-order (adj.) "made according to the customer's specifications" is by 1905 in advertisements, from the verbal phrase. Grose's dictionary of slang and cant (1785) has for this word a tart definition: "MADE. Stolen. Cant."ETD made (adj.).3

    Made up (adj.) in earliest use was "consummate, accomplished" (c. 1600), but this is obsolete. As "put together from parts from various sources" it is by 1670s. As "artificially prepared for the purpose of deception," by 1773. Of minds, "settled, decided," by 1788.ETD made (adj.).4


    group of volcanic islands off the northwest coast of Africa, from Portuguese madeira "wood," because the main island formerly was thickly wooded, from Latin materia "wood, matter" (see matter (n.)). As a type of fine wine of the sherry class, 1540s, from the island, where it was produced.ETD Madeira.2


    fem. proper name, variation of Madeline. The kind of small, rich confection is attested from 1845, said in OED to be named for Madeleine Paulmier, 19c. French pastry cook; any use with a sense of "small thing that evokes powerful nostalgia" is due to Proust (1922).ETD Madeleine.2


    fem. proper name, from French Magdalene (q.v.). Compare also Madeleine.ETD Madeline.2


    mid-15c., madamoisell, title applied to an unmarried Frenchwoman, formerly in France the title of any woman not of the nobility, from French mademoiselle (12c.), from a compound of ma dameisele (see damsel), literally "young mistress." Contracted form ma'amselle is attested from 1794, mamsell by 1842.ETD mademoiselle.2


    fem. proper name, an assibilated form of Mag, pet form of Margaret. Also used as the name of a barn-owl and a magpie.ETD Madge.2

    madhouse (n.)

    "lunatic asylum, house where insane persons are confined for cure or restraint," 1680s, from mad + house (n.). Figurative sense of "scene of uproar or confusion" is by 1919.ETD madhouse (n.).2


    surname attested from early 15c., probably in many cases a variant of Mathieson "son of Matthew," but in some cases perhaps "son of Maddy," from the pet form of the fem. proper name Maud. The city in Wisconsin, U.S., was named 1836 for U.S. President James Madison, who had died that year. As the name of a popular dance of 1960 its signification is unknown; supposedly it originated in Baltimore.ETD Madison.2

    Madison Avenue "values and business of advertising and public relations" is attested by 1954, from the street in Manhattan, laid out c. 1836 and also named for the late president. The concentration of advertising agencies there seems to date from the 1940s.ETD Madison.3

    madly (adv.)

    c. 1200, "in a mad manner, wildly, violently, irrationally," from mad (adj.) + -ly (2). Colloquial meaning "passionately" had emerged by 1767.ETD madly (adv.).2

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