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    materialism (n.) — mayday (interj.)

    materialism (n.)

    1748, "philosophy that nothing exists except matter" (from French matérialisme); see material (n.) + ism. As this naturally tended toward "opinion or tendency based upon purely material interests," it came to be used by late 19c. for any low view of life (opposed to idealism). As "a way of life based entirely on consumer goods," by 1930.ETD materialism (n.).2

    material (n.)

    late 14c., "component substance, matter from which a thing is made," from material (adj.).ETD material (n.).2

    materialist (n.)

    1660s and after in various philosophical and theological senses, on model of French matérialiste, from material (n.) + -ist. Also see materialism.ETD materialist (n.).2

    materialistic (adj.)

    "pertaining to, of the nature of, or characterized by materialism" in any sense, 1829, from materialist + -ic. Related: Materialistically.ETD materialistic (adj.).2

    materia medica (n.)

    "substances used in medicine," 1690s, Latin, literally "medical matter."ETD materia medica (n.).2

    materiel (n.)

    "the totality of things used in the carrying out of any complex art or technique" (as distinguished from personnel), 1814, from French matériel "material," noun use of adj. matériel (see material (adj.)). A later borrowing of the same word that became material (n.). By 1819 in the specific sense of "articles, supplies, machinery, etc. used in the military."ETD materiel (n.).2

    maternity (n.)

    1610s, "quality or condition of being a mother," from French maternité "motherhood" (15c.), from Medieval Latin maternitatem (nominative maternitas) "motherhood," from Latin māternus "of a mother," from māter "mother" (see mother (n.1)). Used from 1893 as a quasi-adjective in reference to garments designed for pregnant women. Maternity leave in reference to working women is attested by 1942.ETD maternity (n.).2

    maternal (adj.)

    late 15c., "of or pertaining to a mother or motherhood; characteristic of mothers," from Old French maternel (14c.), from Vulgar Latin *maternalis, from Latin māternus "maternal, of a mother," from māter "mother" (see mother (n.1)). From 1650s as "inherited or derived from a mother;" by 1784 as "motherly, having the instincts of a mother." Related: Maternally.ETD maternal (adj.).2

    math (n.1)

    American English shortening of mathematics, 1890; the British preference, maths, is attested from 1911. "Math. is used as an abbreviation in written English in the U.K. but not in speech, the normal form being Maths" [OED].ETD math (n.1).2

    math (n.2)

    "a mowing, what is gathered from mowing," Old English mæð "mowing, cutting of grass," from Proto-Germanic *mediz (source also of Old Frisian meth, Old High German mad, German Mahd "mowing, hay crop"), from PIE root *me- (4) "to cut down grass or grain." Obsolete except in figurative aftermath.ETD math (n.2).2

    maths (n.)

    British English colloquial abbreviation of mathematics, by 1911; see math.ETD maths (n.).2

    mathematical (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or of the nature of mathematics," early 15c., from Medieval Latin mathematicus "of or belonging to mathematics," from Latin mathematica (see mathematic) + -al (1). Also, by 1765, "pertaining to the quadrivium," comprising arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music. It also could include optics. Related: Mathematically.ETD mathematical (adj.).2

    mathematics (n.)

    "the science of quantity; the abstract science which investigates the concepts of numerical and spatial relations," 1580s; see mathematic (the older form of the word in English, attested from late 14c.) + -ics. Originally one of three branches of Aristotelian theoretical science, along with first philosophy (or metaphysics) and physics (or natural philosophy).ETD mathematics (n.).2

    mathematic (n.)

    "mathematical science," late 14c. as singular noun, mathematik (replaced since early 17c. by mathematics, q.v.), from Old French mathematique and directly from Latin mathematica (plural), from Greek mathēmatike tekhnē "mathematical science," feminine singular of mathēmatikos (adj.) "relating to mathematics, scientific, astronomical; pertaining to learning, disposed to learn," from mathēma (genitive mathēmatos) "science, knowledge, mathematical knowledge; a lesson," literally "that which is learnt;" from manthanein "to learn," from PIE root *mendh- "to learn."ETD mathematic (n.).2

    As an adjective, "pertaining to mathematics," from c. 1400, from French mathématique or directly from Latin mathematicus.ETD mathematic (n.).3

    mathematician (n.)

    "one skilled or learned in mathematics," early 15c., mathematicion, from Old French mathematicien, from mathematique, from Latin mathematicus "of or belonging to mathematics," from Latin mathematica (see mathematic).ETD mathematician (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from French Mathilde, which is of Germanic origin, literally "mighty in battle;" compare Old High German Mahthilda, from mahti "might, power" (see might (n.)) + hildi "battle," from Proto-Germanic *hildiz "battle" (see Hilda). Matilda (1102-1167), daughter of Henry I, claimant to the throne during the Anarchy, usually is not reckoned among the kings and queens of England.ETD Matilda.2

    The name also was late 19c. Australian slang for "a traveler's bundle or swag," hence the expression waltzing Matilda "to travel on foot" (by 1889).ETD Matilda.3

    The lyrics of the song of that name, sometimes called the unofficial Australian national anthem, are said to date to 1893.ETD Matilda.4

    matins (n.)

    canonical hour, mid-13c., from Old French matines (12c.), from Late Latin matutinas (nominative matutinæ) "morning prayers," originally matutinas vigilias "morning watches," from Latin matutinus "of or in the morning," associated with Matuta, Roman dawn goddess (see manana). Properly a midnight office (occupied by two services, nocturns and lauds) but sometimes celebrated at sunrise. The Old English word was uht-sang, from uhte "daybreak."ETD matins (n.).2

    matin (n.)

    see matins.ETD matin (n.).2

    matinee (n.)

    "afternoon performance, an entertainment held in the daytime," 1848, from French matinée (musicale), from matinée "morning" (with a sense here of "daytime"), from matin "morning" (but here "afternoon" or "daytime"), from Old French matines (see matins). Originally as a French word in English; it lost its foreignness by late 19c. For the French suffix, compare journey.ETD matinee (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "of or relating to a mother," also "of or relating to women," from combining form of Latin māter (genitive mātris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)).ETD matri-.2

    matriarchal (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to maternal rule or rule by females," 1780 (in reference to bee colonies); see matriarch + -al (1). Related: Matriarchally.ETD matriarchal (adj.).2

    matriarch (n.)

    "mother or woman who heads a family or tribe," c. 1600, from matri- "mother, woman" + -arch, abstracted from patriarch, ultimately from Greek arkhein "to rule" (see archon).ETD matriarch (n.).2

    matriarchy (n.)

    "government by a mother or mothers; form of social organization in which the mother is the head of the family and the descendants are reckoned through the maternal side," formed in English 1881 from matriarch + -y (4) and "patterned after patriarchy" [Barnhart].ETD matriarchy (n.).2

    matricide (n.)

    1590s, "act of killing one's mother;" 1630s, "one who kills his mother;" from French matricide, from Latin mātricida "mother-killer," and mātricidium "mother-killing," from combining form of māter "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + -cida "killer," and -cidium "a killing," from caedere "to slay" (from PIE root *kae-id- "to strike"). Related: Matricidal (adj.). Old English had moðorslaga "a matricide, a mother-slayer."ETD matricide (n.).2

    matriculation (n.)

    1580s, "an admitting to membership by enrollment; act of registering (someone) among the members of a society, enlisting a soldier, etc.," now chiefly "act of formal admission to a college or university," noun of action from matriculate (v.).ETD matriculation (n.).2

    matriculate (v.)

    1570s, "insert (a name) in a register or official list," especially "to admit (a student) to a college by enrolling his name on the register," from Late Latin matriculatus, past participle of matriculare "to register," from Latin mātricula "public register," diminutive of mātrix (genitive mātricis) "list, roll," also "sources, womb" (see matrix).ETD matriculate (v.).2

    The connection of senses in the Latin word seems to be via confusion of Greek mētra "womb" (from mētēr "mother;" see mother (n.1)) and an identical but different Greek word mētra meaning "register, lot" (see meter (n.2)). Evidently Latin mātrix was used to translate both, though it originally shared meaning with only one.ETD matriculate (v.).3

    Intransitive sense of "to be entered as a member of a university or college, to become a member of a body or society" is by 1851. Also from late 16c. in English as "to adopt as a child; to naturalize," from the other sense of the Latin word, but these meanings now are obsolete. A list or register of persons belonging to an order, society, etc. was a matricula (1550s), from a diminutive of Latin mātrix. Related: Matriculated; matriculating.ETD matriculate (v.).4

    matrifocal (adj.)

    1952, in reference to families or households where the mother has responsibility and authority, a term from sociology, from matri- + focal.ETD matrifocal (adj.).2

    matrilineal (adj.)

    "pertaining to or descended from the mother's side," 1897, from matri- + lineal. Related: Matrilineage; matrilineally.ETD matrilineal (adj.).2

    matrilocal (adj.)

    1897, from matri- + local. Applied to the custom in certain social groups for a married couple to settle in the wife's home or community.ETD matrilocal (adj.).2

    matrimony (n.)

    c. 1300, matrimoine, "the married state, the relation of husband and wife, wedlock; the sacrament of marriage," from Old French matremoine "matrimony, marriage" and directly from Latin mātrimōnium "wedlock, marriage" (in plural "wives"), from mātrem (nominative māter) "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + -mōnium, suffix signifying "action, state, condition."ETD matrimony (n.).2

    matrimonial (adj.)

    mid-15c., "of or pertaining to marriage, connubial, nuptial," from Old French matrimonial (14c.) and directly from Late Latin matrimonialis, from Latin mātrimōnium "wedlock, marriage" (see matrimony). Earlier as a noun meaning "a marriage" (late 15c.). Related: Matrimonially.ETD matrimonial (adj.).2

    matrix (n.)

    late 14c., matris, matrice, "uterus, womb," from Old French matrice "womb, uterus" and directly from Latin mātrix (genitive mātricis) "pregnant animal," in Late Latin "womb," also "source, origin," from māter (genitive mātris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)).ETD matrix (n.).2

    The many figurative and technical senses are from the notion of "that which encloses or gives origin to" something. The general sense of "place or medium where something is developed" is recorded by 1550s; meaning "mould in which something is cast or shaped" is by 1620s; sense of "embedding or enclosing mass" is by 1640s.ETD matrix (n.).3

    The mathematical sense of "a rectangular array of quantities (usually square)" is because it is considered as a set of components into which quantities can be set. The logical sense of "array of possible combinations of truth-values" is attested by 1914. As a verb, in television broadcasting, from 1951.ETD matrix (n.).4

    matroclinous (adj.)

    also matriclinous, "resembling the mother rather than the father," 1911, from matri- "mother" + Latinized form of Greek klinein "to lean" (from PIE root *klei- "to lean") + -ous.ETD matroclinous (adj.).2

    matron (n.)

    late 14c., matrone, "married woman," usually one of rank or social respectability and mature years (old enough to be the mother of a family, whether actually so or not), from Old French matrone "married woman; elderly lady; patroness; midwife," and directly from Latin mātrona "married woman, wife, matron," from māter (genitive mātris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)).ETD matron (n.).2

    Also (15c.) "a married female saint." Sense of "female manager of a school, head nurse in a hospital, etc." is recorded by 1550s.ETD matron (n.).3

    matronize (v.)

    1741, "to render matronly;" see matron + -ize. By 1807 as "to act as a mother to," specifically "to chaperone." It has been used humorously (by 1830) for "to patronize" when said of a woman. Related: Matronized; matronizing.ETD matronize (v.).2

    matronly (adj.)

    "characteristic of or suitable to a matron," 1650s, from matron + -ly (2). From 1580s as an adverb. An earlier adjective was matron-like (1570s); matronal (from Latin matronalis) is recorded from c. 1600.ETD matronly (adj.).2

    matronymic (n.)

    "a name derived from a mother or maternal ancestor," 1794, a hybrid from Latin māter "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + Greek-based ending from patronymic. As an adjective, "pertaining to or being derived from a mother or maternal ancestor," from 1874.ETD matronymic (n.).2

    matte (n.1)

    "backing for a picture," 1845, from French; see mat (n.2).ETD matte (n.1).2

    matte (n.2)

    in metallurgy, "impure and unfinished product of the smelting of copper or other ores," 1839, from French matte, from the adjective meaning "dull, dim" (see mat (adj.)).ETD matte (n.2).2

    matters (n.)

    "events, affairs of a particular sort," 1560s, from plural of matter (n.).ETD matters (n.).2

    matter (v.)

    "to be of importance or consequence," 1580s, from matter (n.). Related: Mattered; mattering.ETD matter (v.).2

    matter (n.)

    c. 1200, materie, "the subject of a mental act or a course of thought, speech, or expression," from Anglo-French matere, Old French matere "subject, theme, topic; substance, content; character, education" (12c., Modern French matière) and directly from Latin materia "substance from which something is made," also "hard inner wood of a tree." According to de Vaan and Watkins, this is from mater "origin, source, mother" (see mother (n.1)). The sense developed and expanded in Latin in philosophy by influence of Greek hylē (see hylo-) "wood, firewood," in a general sense "material," used by Aristotle for "matter" in the philosophical sense.ETD matter (n.).2

    The Latin word also is the source of Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian materia, Dutch, German, and Danish materie, vernacular Spanish madera, Portuguese madeira "wood" (compare Madeira). The Middle English word also sometimes was used specifically as "piece of wood."ETD matter (n.).3

    From c. 1200 as "a subject of a literary work, content of what is written, main theme;" sense of "narrative, tale, story" is from c. 1300. Meaning "physical substance generally" is from mid-14c.; that of "substance of which some specific object is or may be composed" is attested from late 14c. Meaning "piece of business, affair, activity, situation; subject of debate or controversy, question under discussion" is from late 14c. In law, "something which is to be tried or proved," 1530s.ETD matter (n.).4

    Matter of course "something expected" attested from 1739 (adjectival phrase matter-of-course "proceeding as a natural consequence" is by 1840). For that matter "as far as that goes, as far as that is concerned" is attested from 1670s. What is the matter "what concerns (someone), what is the cause of the difficulty" is attested from mid-15c., from matter in the sense of "circumstance or condition as affecting persons and things." To make no matter to "be no difference to" also is mid-15c., with matter in the meaning "importance, consequence."ETD matter (n.).5


    Alpine mountain, from German Matte "meadow, pastureland" (see mead (n.2)) + Horn (see horn (n.)). So called for its horn-like shape (cut by glaciers in the Ice Ages). The slopes are steep and treacherous; the Matte is for the meadows at its base. The Roman name was Mons Silvius, which might be based on a personal name.ETD Matterhorn.2

    matterless (adj.)

    late 14c., "insubstantial, immaterial, without physical substance," from matter (n.) + -less. From 1610s as "devoid of sense or meaning."ETD matterless (adj.).2

    matter-of-fact (adj.)

    "consisting of or pertaining to facts, not fanciful or ideal," 1712, from the noun phrase matter of fact "reality as distinguished from what is fanciful or hypothetical, truth attested by direct observation or authentic testimony," which is originally a legal term (1570s, translating Latin res facti), "that which is fact or alleged fact; that portion of an inquiry concerned with the truth or falsehood of alleged facts, subject of discussion belonging to the realm of fact" (as distinguished from matter of inference, opinion, law, etc.). See matter (n.) + fact.ETD matter-of-fact (adj.).2

    The meaning "prosaic, unimaginative, adhering to facts" is from 1787. Related: Matter-of-factly; matter-of-factness. German Tatsache is said to be a loan-translation of the English word.ETD matter-of-fact (adj.).3


    masc. proper name, introduced in England by the Normans, from Old French Mathieu, from Late Latin Matthaeus, from Greek Matthaios, contraction of Mattathias, from Hebrew Mattathyah "gift of Jehovah," from mattath "gift." Variant Matthias is from the Greek version.ETD Matthew.2


    masc. proper name, from Late Latin Matthias, from Greek Matthaios (see Matthew).ETD Matthias.2

    mattock (n.)

    "instrument for loosening soil in digging, shaped like a pickaxe but with broad instead of pointed ends," Middle English mattok, from Old English mttoc, formerly said to be probably from Vulgar Latin *matteuca "club," which is related to Latin mateola, a kind of mallet (see mace (n.1)), but this is not certain, and synonymous Russian motyka, Polish motyka, Lithuanian matikas, as well as Old High German medela "plow," Middle High German metz "knife" suggest rather a PIE *mat- as source of the Latin, Germanic, and Slavic words. OED says similar words in Welsh and Gaelic are from English.ETD mattock (n.).2

    mattress (n.)

    c. 1300, materas, "a bed consisting of a bag filled with soft and elastic material and usually tacked at short intervals to prevent the contents from slipping," from Old French materas (12c., Modern French matelas), from Italian materasso and directly from Medieval Latin matracium, borrowed in Sicily from medieval Arabic al-matrah "(the) large cushion or rug for lying on" (also source of Spanish almadraque "mattress," Provençal and Catalan-Latin almatrac), literally "the thing thrown down," from taraha "he threw (down)" with noun prefix ma-. In Middle English also materace, matrasse, etc.,; the modern spelling is attested by early 15c.ETD mattress (n.).2

    mature (v.)

    c. 1400, maturen, "encourage suppuration;" mid-15c., of plants, "cause to ripen, bring to maturity," from Latin mātūrare "to ripen, bring to maturity," from mātūrus "ripe, timely, early," related to māne "early, of the morning," from PIE *meh-tu- "ripeness." De Vaan writes that "The root is probably the same as in mānus 'good'." Intransitive sense of "come to a state of ripeness, become ripe or perfect" is from 1650s. The financial sense of "reach the time for payment" is by 1861. Related: Matured; maturing.ETD mature (v.).2

    maturate (v.)

    1540s, (transitive) "to bring to maturity," back-formation from maturation. Intransitive sense of "to ripen" is by 1620s. Related: Maturated; maturating.ETD maturate (v.).2

    mature (adj.)

    mid-15c., of fruits, "ripe, complete in natural growth or development," also, of deliberations, etc., "careful, well-considered, thorough," from Latin mātūrus "ripe, timely, early" (see mature (v.)). Of persons, "having fully developed powers of body and mind," c. 1600. The euphemistic sense of "older than usual" is by 1953.ETD mature (adj.).2

    maturity (n.)

    early 15c., maturite, "maturity of character;" mid-15c., "ripeness, completeness, full development," from Old French maturité and directly from Latin mātūritatem (nominative mātūritas) "ripeness," from mātūrus "ripe" (see mature (v.)). The word seems to have been reborrowed in early Modern English:ETD maturity (n.).2

    The financial sense "time fixed for payment of an obligation" is by 1815.ETD maturity (n.).3

    maturation (n.)

    early 15c., maturacioun, "the coming to a head of a boil, etc.; a state of producing pus," from Latin mātūrationem (nominative mātūratio) "a hastening, accelerating," noun of action from past-participle stem of mātūrare "to ripen, grow ripe; make ripe; to quicken" (see mature (v.)). The sense of "process of ripening or coming to maturity" is from 1610s of children, 1620s of fruits.ETD maturation (n.).2

    maturely (adv.)

    1530s, "promptly," from mature (adj.) + -ly (2). Sense of "with full deliberation" is from 1590s; that of "in a way indicative of maturity" is from 1841.ETD maturely (adv.).2

    maturescent (adj.)

    1727, "growing ripe, becoming mature," from Latin mātūrescentem (nominative mātūrescens), present participle of mātūrescere "be ripe, ripen," from mātūrus "ripe" (see mature (v.)) + inchoative suffix -escere. Related: Maturescence "process of maturing," by 1803.ETD maturescent (adj.).2

    matutinal (adj.)

    "pertaining to the morning; coming or occurring early in the day," 1650s, from Latin mātūtīnalis "pertaining to morning," from mātūtīnus "of or pertaining to the morning," from Mātūta, name of the Roman goddess of dawn, related to mātūrus "early" (see mature (v.)). Earlier in same sense was matutine (mid-15c.). Related: Matutinally.ETD matutinal (adj.).2

    matzah (n.)

    also matza; see matzoh.ETD matzah (n.).2

    matzoh (n.)

    also matzo, "flat piece of unleavened bread eaten by Jews during the Passover," 1846, from Hebrew matztzah (plural matztzoth) "unleavened bread," literally "juiceless," from stem of matzatz "he sucked out, drained out."ETD matzoh (n.).2


    fem. proper name, from Old French Mahaut, from Medieval Latin Matilda from Germanic (compare Old High German Mahthilda; see Matilda). In the U.S. its popularity as a given name declined rapidly from 1900 and since 1933 it has not figured in the top 1,000 names for girl babies.ETD Maud.2

    maudlin (adj.)

    c. 1600, "tearful, weeping" (a sense now obsolete), from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman's name, who in the Middle Ages was believed to be identical with the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii.37 (see Magdalene). Thus in paintings, she often was shown weeping as a sign of repentance. Meaning "characterized by tearful sentimentality, over-emotional" is recorded by 1630s. Also in old slang "tipsy, foolish from drink" (by 1700), from maudlin-drunk (1610s) "in the sentimental and tearful stage of intoxication."ETD maudlin (adj.).2

    maugre (prep., adv.)

    "in spite of, notwithstanding," mid-14c., from Old French maugre, maulgrec "in spite of" (Modern French malgré), elliptical use of the noun maugre "ill-will, spite," from Latin malus "bad, ill, unpleasant" (see mal-) + gratum "a pleasant thing," noun use of neuter of gratus "pleasing, welcome, agreeable" (from suffixed form of PIE root *gwere- (2) "to favor"). The noun maugre "ill-will" also was in Middle English (c. 1300). For sense, compare in spite of.ETD maugre (prep., adv.).2

    maul (n.)

    c. 1200, mealle, "heavy wooden hammer or mallet; sledgehammer," from Old French mail "hammer," from Latin malleus "hammer" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind").ETD maul (n.).2

    maul (v.)

    mid-13c., meallen "to strike, beat, or bruise with a heavy weapon," from Middle English mealle (mid-13c.) "mace, wooden club, heavy hammer" (see maul (n.)). It has gradually lost its association with hammering. To maul through "pierce with a pointed weapon" is attested by mid-14c.; and compare the meaning "split (rails) with wedges and a maul" (1680s). The meaning "damage seriously, mangle" is recorded by 1690s. Related: Mauled; mauling.ETD maul (v.).2

    maulstick (n.)

    "light stick used by painters to support the painting hand," 1650s, from Dutch maalstok, literally "painting stick," from mallen "to paint," from Proto-Germanic *mal- (source also of Old Norse mæla, Old High German malon "trace, draw, paint," German malen "to paint"), from mal "spot, mark, stain," perhaps from the same root as Greek melas "black" (see melano-), but the original sense is not color but marking. With stock "stick" (see stock (n.1)).ETD maulstick (n.).2

    Mau Mau (n.)

    secret society devoted to ending British rule in Kenya colony, by 1950, probably from the Kikuyu language of Kenya, but the exact meaning is disputed.ETD Mau Mau (n.).2

    maun (v.)

    Scottish form of northern English moun "must," from Old Norse man, first- and third-person singular of munu "shall, will." Related: Maunna "must not."ETD maun (v.).2

    maunder (v.)

    "to wander about aimlessly," 1746, earlier "to mumble, grumble" (1620s), both senses perhaps (with a notion of "to speak with a beggar's whine or grumble") from frequentative of maund "to beg" (1560s), which is possibly from French mendier "to beg," from Latin mendicare "to beg, ask alms" (see mendicant).ETD maunder (v.).2

    "Though the etymology of maunder is uncertain, it is clear that it is not a corruption of meander" [Fowler], but the two words seem to have influenced each other. Meaning "to wander in talking like one drunken or foolish" is by 1831. Fowler writes that maunder is "best confined to speech, & suggests futility rather than digression ... & failure to reach an end rather than loitering on the way to it." Related: Maundered; maundering.ETD maunder (v.).3

    Maundy Thursday

    Thursday before Easter, mid-15c., from Middle English maunde "the Last Supper" (c. 1300), also "ceremony of washing the feet of poor persons or inferiors, performed as a religious rite on Maundy Thursday" (early 14c.), from Old French mandé, from Latin mandatum "commandment" (see mandate (n.)); said to be so called in reference to the opening words of the Latin church service for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "A new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words supposedly spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet at the Last Supper.ETD Maundy Thursday.2


    masc. proper name, from French Maurice, from Late Latin Mauritius, from Latin Maurus "inhabitant of Mauretania, Moor" (see Moor).ETD Maurice.2


    name of a modern nation (since 1960) and ancient kingdom of northwest Africa, also the name of a Roman province corresponding to parts of modern Morocco and Algeria, from Latin Mauretania, from Greek Mauritania, "the country of the Mauri" (Greek Mauroi, singular Mauros; see Moor). Related: Mauritanian.ETD Mauritania.2


    type of German army rifle, by 1874; it was introduced 1871, having been invented by brothers Peter Paul (1838-1914) and Wilhelm (1834-1882) Mauser.ETD Mauser.2

    mausoleum (n.)

    "magnificent tomb," early 15c., from Latin mausoleum, from Greek Mausoleion, name of the massive marble tomb adorned with sculpture built 353 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus (Greek city in Asia Minor) for Mausolos, Persian satrap who made himself king of Caria. It was built by his wife (and sister), Artemisia. Counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. General sense of "any stately burial-place" (now usually one designed to contain a number of tombs) is from c. 1600. Related: Mausolean.ETD mausoleum (n.).2

    mauve (n.)

    reddish-purple aniline dye, 1859, from French mauve, from Old French mauve "mallow" (13c.), from Latin malva "mallow" (see mallow). The dye was so called from its resemblance to the purple markings of the petals of the mallow plant. Related: Mauvish.ETD mauve (n.).2


    in French terms in English, "false, worthless," from French mauvais (fem. mauvaise) "bad," 12c., from Vulgar Latin *malifatius, literally "one who has a bad lot," from Latin malum "bad" (see mal-) + fatum "fate" (see fate (n.)). Among the borrowed expressions in which it figures are mauvaise honte "false modesty" (in English by 1721); mauvais sujet "a bad fellow, a 'hard case'" (1793); mauvais quart d'heure "brief but unpleasant experience" (1864).ETD mauvais.2

    maven (n.)

    "expert, connoisseur," by 1965, from Yiddish meyvn, from Hebrew mebhin, literally "one who understands." Plural is mayvinim.ETD maven (n.).2

    maverick (n.)

    1867, "calf or yearling found without an owner's brand," a word from the great cattle ranches of the American West, so called for Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner who was notoriously negligent in branding his calves.ETD maverick (n.).2

    The family name is an old one in Boston, and a different Samuel Maverick was killed in the Boston Massacre. The sense of "individualist, unconventional person" is said to be attested by 1886, via the notion of "masterless," but its modern popularity seems to date to the late 1930s and the career of Maury Maverick (1895-1954) of Texas, grandson of Samuel the rancher and a Democratic congressman 1935-1939 famous for his liberal independent streak, who also coined gobbledygook.ETD maverick (n.).3

    "The Crisis" (April 1939) wrote that "During his stormy career in Washington Maverick became known as the one dependable liberal among the southerners. He recognized the broad problems of our nation, refusing to allow his vision to be limited by sectional prejudices, or racial or economic bugaboos. He was the only southern congressman to vote for the Gavagan federal anti-lynching bill. Not only did he vote for it, but he made a speech on the floor of the House in support of it."ETD maverick (n.).4

    mavis (n.)

    "the song thrush," a well-known bird common in most parts of Europe, c. 1400, mavys, from Old French mauvis, of unknown origin; related to Spanish malvis, Italian malviccio. Breton milfid is a French loan word. Also used as a fem. proper name.ETD mavis (n.).2

    maw (n.)

    Middle English maue, from Old English maga "stomach" (of men and animals, including fish and birds; in Modern English only of animals unless insultingly of humans), from Proto-Germanic *magan- "bag, stomach" (source also of Old Frisian maga, Old Norse magi, Danish mave, Middle Dutch maghe, Dutch maag, Old High German mago, German Magen "stomach"), from PIE *mak- "leather bag" (source also of Welsh megin "bellows," Lithuanian makas, Old Church Slavonic mošina "bag, pouch"). Meaning "throat, gullet" is from late 14c. Metaphoric of voracity from late 14c.ETD maw (n.).2

    mawkish (adj.)

    1660s, "sickly, nauseated" (a sense now obsolete), from Middle English mawke "maggot" (early 15c.; see maggot), but the literal sense of "maggoty" is not found. Figurative meaning "sickeningly sentimental, insipid" is recorded by 1702. Related: Mawkishly; mawkishness.ETD mawkish (adj.).2

    maw-worm (n.)

    "an intestinal worm infesting the stomach," c. 1600, from maw (n.) + worm (n.).ETD maw-worm (n.).2

    max (v.)

    "to reach the maximum level," by 1986, colloquial, from maximize or related words. Related: Maxed; maxing. As a noun, by 1811 in reference to a kind of gin said to be the best, apparently an abbreviation of French maxime.ETD max (v.).2


    word-forming element meaning "maximum, very large or very long for its kind," abstracted from maximum.ETD maxi-.2

    maxilla (n.)

    "a jaw, a jawbone," 1670s, from Latin maxilla "upper jaw," diminutive of mala "jaw, cheekbone." "Maxilla stands to mala as axilla, 'armpit,' stands to ala 'wing'" [Klein]. Especially a bone of the upper jaw (maxilla superior) as distinguished from the mandible or lower jaw (maxilla inferior). Related: Maxillar; maxilliform.ETD maxilla (n.).2

    maxillary (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the jaw or jawbone," 1620s, from Latin maxilla "upper jaw" (see maxilla) + -ary.ETD maxillary (adj.).2

    maximize (v.)

    "to make as great as possible, raise or increase to the highest degree," 1802, formed in English from maximum + -ize; first attested in Bentham, who used it often. Related: Maximized; maximizing.ETD maximize (v.).2

    maxim (n.)

    early 15c., maxime, "an axiom, statement of a self-evident truth," from Old French maxime, from Late Latin maxima, shortened from phrases such as maxima propositio (Boethius), maxima sententarium "axiom," literally "greatest or chief premise, greatest among propositions" (one which is general and absolute), from fem. of maximus "greatest," from PIE *mag-samo-, superlative form of root *meg- "great."ETD maxim (n.).2

    The modern meaning "summary statement of an established or accepted proposition serving as a rule or guide, a proposition ostensibly expressing some general truth" is from 1590s.ETD maxim (n.).3

    maximization (n.)

    1802 (Bentham), noun of action from maximize.ETD maximization (n.).2

    maximal (adj.)

    "of the highest or maximum value," 1872, from Latin maximus "greatest" (see maximum (n.)) + -al (1). Related: Maximally.ETD maximal (adj.).2


    single-barreled water-cooled machine gun, 1885 (Maxim gun), named for inventor, U.S.-born British engineer Sir Hiram S. Maxim (1840-1916).ETD Maxim.2

    maximalist (n.)

    "extreme radical in the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party" (one who insists on all his demands ), by 1907, from maximal + -ist, based on Russian maksimalist. Related: Maximalism.ETD maximalist (n.).2


    masc. proper name, from Latin Maximus and Aemilianus, both proper names. According to Camden, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III (1415-1493) coined the name and gave it to his son in hopes the boy would grow up to have the virtues of Fabius Maximus and Scipio Aemilianus.ETD Maximilian.2

    maximise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of maximize. For suffix, see -ize. Related: Maximised; maximising; maximisation.ETD maximise (v.).2

    maximist (n.)

    "one who has a fondness for quoting or using maxims," by 1827, from maxim + -ist.ETD maximist (n.).2

    maximum (n.)

    "the greatest amount, quantity, or degree," 1740, from French maximum and directly from Latin maximum (plural maxima), neuter of maximus "greatest," which is superlative of magnus "great, large, big" (of size), "abundant" (of quantity), "great, considerable" (of value), "strong, powerful" (of force); of persons, "elder, aged," also, figuratively, "great, mighty, grand, important," from PIE *mag-samo-, superlative form of root *meg- "great."ETD maximum (n.).2

    maximum (adj.)

    "greatest, at the maximum," 1834, from maximum (n.).ETD maximum (adj.).2


    surname, later masc. proper name, attested from late 12c., from Maxwell, name of a town on the River Tweed on the Scottish borders (the name is probably "the well of Macc or Macca"). In physics, usually a reference to James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), as in Maxwell's demon (1879; as Maxwell's "intelligent demons" from 1874).ETD Maxwell.2


    of or pertaining to the large group of native people of the Yucatan, or to their ancient civilization, at its peak c. 250 C.E. to 9c., noted for its fully developed written script, mathematics (which included zero), and astronomy; 1822, from the native name. Related: Mayan (1831).ETD Maya.2

    maybe (adv.)

    "perhaps, possibly," early 15c., from (it) may be; see may (v.1) + be (v.). In early 19c. still sometimes written as two words. As a noun, "something that may be or happen," 1580s.ETD maybe (adv.).2

    May Day

    "first of May," on which the opening of the season of flowers and fruit formerly was celebrated throughout Europe, mid-13c.; see May + day (n.). May Queen "girl or young woman crowned with flowers and honored as queen at the games held on May Day," seems to be a Victorian re-invented tradition; the phrase Queen of Maij is attested from c. 1500.ETD May Day.2

    May Day's association with communism (and socialism and anarchism) dates to 1890. A U.S. general strike for an eight-hour workday began May 1, 1886, and culminated in the Haymarket bombing affair in Chicago on May 4. By 1890 strikes, protests, and rallies were being held in Europe by socialist and labor organizations on May 1, at first in support of the eight-hour day, more or less in commemoration of the 1886 strike.ETD May Day.3

    mayday (interj.)

    international radio-telephone distress call, 1923, apparently an Englished spelling of French m'aider, shortening of venez m'aider "come help me!" But possibly a random coinage with coincidental resemblance:ETD mayday (interj.).2

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