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    metastasize — Michelin


    of a disease, cancer, etc., "pass from one part or organ of the body to another," 1826, from metastasis + -ize. Related: Metastasized; metastasizing.ETD metastasize.2

    metastasis (n.)

    "change of substance, conversion of one substance into another," 1570s, originally in rhetoric, from Late Latin metastasis "transition," from Greek metastasis "a removing, removal; migration; a changing; change, revolution," from methistanai "to remove, change," from meta, here indicating "change" (see meta-) + histanai "to place, cause to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm." A rhetorical term in Late Latin for "a sudden transition in subjects," medical use for "shift of disease from one part of the body to another" dates from 1660s in English. Related: Metastatic.ETD metastasis (n.).2

    metastasise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of metastasize. Related: Metastasised; metastasising.ETD metastasise (v.).2

    metatarsal (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the metatarsus," 1739, from metatarsus "middle bones of the foot" (early 15c.), from Medieval Latin metatarsus, from meta "between, next after" (see meta-) + tarsus (see tarsus (n.)). As a noun, "a metatarsal bone," by 1854.ETD metatarsal (adj.).2

    metathesize (v.)

    "to undergo metathesis," 1893, from metathesis + -ize. Related: Metathesized; metathesizing.ETD metathesize (v.).2

    metathesis (n.)

    1570s, in grammar, "transposition of letters in a word;" c. 1600, "rhetorical transposition of words," from Late Latin metathesis, from Greek metathesis "change of position, transposition, change of opinion," from stem of metatithenai "to transpose," from meta "change" (see meta-) + tithenai "to place, to set," from reduplicated form of PIE root *dhe- "to set, put." Plural is metatheses. Related: Metathetic; metathetical.ETD metathesis (n.).2


    name of a supreme angelic being in Jewish theology, 1786, of uncertain origin.ETD Metatron.2

    mete (v.)

    "to allot," Old English metan (West Saxon mæton), "to measure, ascertain the dimension or quantity of; measure out; compare; estimate the greatness of value of" (class V strong verb; past tense mæt, past participle meten), from Proto-Germanic *metana "to measure" (source also of Old Saxon metan, Old Frisian, Old Norse meta, Dutch meten, Old High German mezzan, German messen, Gothic mitan "to measure"), from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Meaning "distribute or apportion by measure" is from c. 1300 and is the surviving sense, used now exclusively with out. Related: Meted; meting.ETD mete (v.).2

    mete (n.)

    by c. 1400, "a goal" (a sense now obsolete); late 15c. (Caxton) "a boundary, limit, boundary mark," from Old French mete "limit, bounds, frontier" and directly from Latin mēta "goal, boundary, post, pillar," which is of uncertain origin. Surviving only in plural, in the phrase metes and bounds (Anglo-Latin metis et bundis, early 14c.)ETD mete (n.).2

    metempsychosis (n.)

    1580s, "passing of the soul at death into another body, human or animal," from Late Latin metempsychosis, from Greek metempsychosis, from meta, here indicating "change" (see meta-) + empsykhoun "to put a soul into," from en "in" (see in- (2)) + psychē "soul" (see psyche). A Pythagorean word for transmigration of souls at death. Related: Metempsychose (v.) "transfer from one body to another" (1590s).ETD metempsychosis (n.).2

    meteoric (adj.)

    1804, "pertaining to or of the nature of meteors;" earlier "dependent on atmospheric conditions" (1789), from meteor + -ic. Figurative sense of "transiently brilliant" is by 1836.ETD meteoric (adj.).2

    meteor (n.)

    late 15c., "any atmospheric phenomenon," from Old French meteore (13c.) and directly from Medieval Latin meteorum (nominative meteora), from Greek ta meteōra "the celestial phenomena, things in heaven above," plural of meteōron, literally "thing high up," noun use of neuter of meteōros (adj.) "high up, raised from the ground, hanging," from meta "by means of" (see meta-) + -aoros "lifted, lifted up, suspended, hovering in air," related to aeirein "to raise" (from PIE root *wer- (1) "to raise, lift, hold suspended").ETD meteor (n.).2

    The specific sense of "fireball in the sky, shooting star" is attested from 1590s. Atmospheric phenomena were formerly classified as aerial meteors (wind), aqueous meteors (rain, snow, hail), luminous meteors (aurora, rainbows), and igneous meteors (lightning, shooting stars). All the other senses have fallen away.ETD meteor (n.).3

    When still in space beyond the atmosphere it is a meteoroid; when fallen to earth it is a meteorite. A periodically recurring fall of them (usually associated with a comet) is a meteor shower (by 1853).ETD meteor (n.).4

    meteorite (n.)

    "rock or metallic mass of extraterrestrial origin that falls to earth after streaking across the sky as a meteor," 1818, from meteor + -ite. They were known from ancient times, but the idea that some such iron masses or rocks had fallen to earth from the sky attained credence among scientists c. 1800.ETD meteorite (n.).2

    meteoroid (n.)

    "rock or metallic mass floating in space," which becomes a meteor when it enters Earth's atmosphere and a meteorite when it strikes, 1865, formed in English from meteor + -oid.ETD meteoroid (n.).2

    meteorological (adj.)

    1560s, "of or pertaining to atmospheric phenomena," especially "of or pertaining to weather," from French météorologique or directly from a Latinized form of Greek meteōrologikos "pertaining to the earth's atmosphere, from meteōrologia, literally "discussion of high things" (see meteorology). Related: Meteorologically.ETD meteorological (adj.).2

    meteorology (n.)

    "science of the earth's atmosphere, scientific study of weather and climate," especially with a view to forecasting the weather, 1610s, from French météorologie and directly from Greek meteōrologia "treatise on celestial phenomena," literally "discussion of high things," from meteōron "thing high up" (see meteor) + -logia "treatment of" (see -logy).ETD meteorology (n.).2

    meteorologist (n.)

    1620s, from meteorology + -ist. Earlier was meteorologician (1570s). Greek meteorologos meant "one who deals with celestial phenomena, astronomer."ETD meteorologist (n.).2

    meter (n.1)

    also metre, "poetic measure, metrical scheme, arrangement of language in a series of rhythmic movements," Old English meter "meter, versification," from Latin mētrum, from Greek metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").ETD meter (n.1).2

    The word was possibly reborrowed early 14c. (after a 300-year gap in recorded use), from Old French metre, with a specific sense of "metrical scheme in verse," from Latin mētrum.ETD meter (n.1).3

    meter (n.2)

    also metre, "fundamental unit of length of the metric system," originally intended to be one ten-millionth of the length of a quadrant of the meridian, 1797, from French mètre (18c.), from Greek metron "measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure." Developed by French Academy of Sciences for system of weights and measures based on a decimal system originated 1670 by French clergyman Gabriel Mouton.ETD meter (n.2).2

    meter (n.3)

    "device or instrument for measuring," abstracted 1832 from gasometer (in English from 1790), etc., from French -mètre, used in combinations, from Latin metrum "measure" or cognate Greek metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure").ETD meter (n.3).2

    English already had meter "person who measures, official who checks that measured quantities are correct" (late 14c., c. 1300 as a surname, agent noun from unrelated mete (v.)), which might have influenced this word. As short for parking meter from 1960. Meter maid "woman police official who patrols metered parking sites" is recorded by 1957, meter reader as a job is by 1872 (originally in reference to gas meters).ETD meter (n.3).3


    word-forming element meaning "device or instrument for measuring;" commonly -ometer, occasionally -imeter; from French -mètre, from Greek metron "a measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure."ETD -meter.2

    meter (v.)

    "to measure by means of a meter," 1864 (in reference to gas), from meter (n.3). Meaning "install parking meters" is from 1957. In 15c.-16c. it meant "to compose verse, write in metrical verse" (from meter (n.1)), also "to measure." Related: Metered; metering.ETD meter (v.).2

    meth (n.)

    colloquial abbreviation of methedrine, attested from 1967.ETD meth (n.).2

    methadone (n.)

    synthetic analgesic used as a substitute for morphine or heroin in treatment of addiction, 1947, generic designation for 6-dimethylamino-4, 4-diphenyl-3-heptanone. For origins of the syllables, see methyl + amino- + di- + -one.ETD methadone (n.).2

    methamphetamine (n.)

    white crystalline compound that acts as a powerful stimulant to the nervous system, 1949, from methyl + amphetamine; so called because it was a methyl derivative of amphetamine.ETD methamphetamine (n.).2

    methane (n.)

    "inflammable colorless and odorless gas; marsh gas," 1867, coined from chemical suffix -ane + syllable abstracted from methyl.ETD methane (n.).2

    methanol (n.)

    "methyl alcohol," 1892 (adopted that year by the international scientific community), from methyl + -ol, suffix denoting "alcohol."ETD methanol (n.).2

    methaqualone (n.)

    hypnotic sedative drug, 1961, the name is contracted from components of the compound, methyl + quinazolinone.ETD methaqualone (n.).2

    Methedrine (n.)

    1939, proprietary name of a brand of methamphetamine (by Wellcome Ltd.); the name is compounded from elements of methyl + benzedrine. Slang abbreviation meth is attested from 1967.ETD Methedrine (n.).2

    methinks (v.)

    "it appears to me" (now archaic or poetic only), from Old English me þyncð "it seems to me," from me (pron.), dative of I, + þyncð, third person singular of þyncan "to seem," reflecting the Old English distinction between þyncan "to seem" and related þencan "to think," which bedevils modern students of the language (see think). The two thinks were constantly confused, then finally merged, in Middle English. Related: Methought.ETD methinks (v.).2

    methodize (v.)

    1580s, "to make methodical, reduce to method," from method + -ize. Intransitive sense of "to be methodical, use method" is by 1771. Related: Methodized; methodizer; methodizing. Methodization "act or process of making methodical" is by 1808.ETD methodize (v.).2

    method (n.)

    early 15c., "regular, systematic treatment of disease," from Latin methodus "way of teaching or going," from Greek methodos "scientific inquiry, method of inquiry, investigation," originally "pursuit, a following after," from meta "in pursuit or quest of" (see meta-) + hodos "a method, system; a way or manner" (of doing, saying, etc.), also "a traveling, journey," literally "a path, track, road," a word of uncertain origin (see Exodus).ETD method (n.).2

    Meaning "any way of doing anything, orderly regulation of conduct with a view to the attainment of an end" is from 1580s; that of "orderliness, regularity" is from 1610s. Meaning "a system or complete sent of rules for attaining an end" is from 1680s. In reference to a theory of acting associated with Russian director Konstantin Stanislavski (1863-1938), it is attested from 1923.ETD method (n.).3

    methodical (adj.)

    1560s, "pertaining to or characterized by method," from French methodique and directly from Late Latin methodicus, from Greek methodikos, from methodos (see method). Meaning "systematic, orderly" is by 1660s. Related: Methodically.ETD methodical (adj.).2

    methodist (n.)

    1590s, "one who is characterized by strict adherence to method," from method + -ist. With a capital M-, it refers to the Protestant religious denomination founded 1729 at Oxford University by John and Charles Wesley. The name had been used at least since 1686 for various new methods of worship; it was applied to the Wesleys by their fellow-students at Oxford for their methodical habits in study and religious life. Johnson (1755) describes them as "One of a new kind of puritans lately arisen, so called from their profession to live by rules and in constant method." Related: Methodism.ETD methodist (n.).2

    methodology (n.)

    "branch of logic that shows how abstract logical principles are to be applied to the production of knowledge," 1800, from French méthodologie or directly from Modern Latin methodologia; see method + -ology. Often simply a longer variant of method.ETD methodology (n.).2

    methodological (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to methodology," 1828, from methodology + -ical. Related: Methodologically.ETD methodological (adj.).2


    also Methuselah, Biblical patriarch, son of Enoch, he was said to have lived 969 years, the oldest lifespan recorded in Old Testament. Used from late 14c. as the type of a very long life or long-lived person. The name is Hebrew Metushelah, which appears to be "man of the dart," from singular of methim "men" + shelah "dart."ETD Methusela.2

    methyl (n.)

    univalent hydrocarbon radical, 1840, from German methyl (1840) or directly from French méthyle, back-formation from French méthylène (see methylene). Ultimately from Greek methy "wine" + hylē "wood."ETD methyl (n.).2

    methylene (n.)

    hydrocarbon radical occurring in many compounds, 1835, from French méthylène (1834), coined by Jean-Baptiste-André Dumas (1800-1884) and Eugène-Melchior Péligot (1811-1890) from Greek methy "wine" (see mead (n.1)) + hylē "wood" (which is of uncertain etymology) + Greek name-forming element -ene. So called because it was detected in wood alcohol.ETD methylene (n.).2

    "The breakdown of methylene into methyl and -ene, and the identification of the last syllable of methyl with the general suffix -yl, led to the use of meth- as a separate combining-element, as, for example, in methane, methacrylic" [Flood]. The color methylene-blue (1880) was derived from dimethylanaline.ETD methylene (n.).3


    Greek goddess personifying prudence, first wife of Zeus, from Greek Mētis, literally "advice, wisdom, counsel; cunning, skill, craft," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure."ETD Metis.2

    metis (n.)

    "person of mixed parentage," especially French Canadian and North American Indian, 1816, from French métis, from Late Latin mixticus "of mixed race," from Latin mixtus "mixed," past participle of miscere "to mix, mingle" (from PIE root *meik- "to mix"). Compare mestizo.ETD metis (n.).2

    metic (n.)

    "resident alien in an ancient Greek state," 1808, from Late Latin metycus, from Greek metoikos, literally "one who has changed his residence," from meta "change" (see meta-) + oikos "dwelling," from oikein "to dwell" (from PIE root *weik- (1) "clan"). Generally they bore the burdens of a citizen and had some of a citizen's privileges.ETD metic (n.).2

    meticulous (adj.)

    1530s, "fearful, timid," a sense now obsolete, from Latin meticulosus, metuculosus "fearful, timid," literally "full of fear," from metus "fear, dread, apprehension, anxiety," a word of unknown origin. The old word seems to have become archaic after c. 1700, fossilized in a passage of Sir Thomas Browne, though it turns up occasionally and obscurely as late as 1807.ETD meticulous (adj.).2

    It began to return to English in a sense of "fussy about details" by 1840s, from French méticuleux "timorously fussy" [Fowler, who rails against it, attributes this use in English to "literary critics"], the French descendant of the Latin word, but it took time for this to percolate. Meticulous appears 1852 in Halliwell's "Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words" (with the definition "timorous") and is marked "obsolete" in Craig's dictionary of the same year. It was listed by Richard Trench ["English Past and Present," 1868], who started the movement that became the OED, among the words that had been "rejected and disallowed by the true linguistic instincts of the national mind."ETD meticulous (adj.).3

    It is marked archaic in the Imperial Dictionary (1883), which has only the sense "timid," but not so marked in Century Dictionary (1890), which defines it as "Timid; over-careful." It was much criticized, and somewhat defended, in writerly publications c. 1914-1924. Related: Meticulosity.ETD meticulous (adj.).4

    meticulousness (n.)

    "over-carefulness, scrupulousness," 1862, from meticulous + -ness. The earlier noun, in the old sense of "fearfulness, timidity," was meticulosity (1650s).ETD meticulousness (n.).2

    meticulously (adv.)

    1680s, "timidly" (a sense now obsolete), from meticulous + -ly (2). By 1888 "in an over-careful or scrupulous manner."ETD meticulously (adv.).2

    metier (n.)

    "one's skill, talent, or calling," 1792, from French métier "trade, profession," from Old French mestier "task, affair, service, function, duty," from Gallo-Roman *misterium, from Latin ministerium "office, service," from minister "servant" (see minister (n.)).ETD metier (n.).2

    metonym (n.)

    "word used in a transferred sense," by 1788; see metonymy.ETD metonym (n.).2

    metonymy (n.)

    in rhetoric, a trope or figure of speech in which the name of one thing is substituted for that of another that is suggested by or closely associated with it (such as the bottle for "alcoholic drink," the Kremlin for "the Russian government"); 1560s, from French métonymie (16c.) and directly from Late Latin metonymia, from Greek metōnymia, literally "change of name," related to metonomazein "to call by a new name; to take a new name," from meta "change" (see meta-) + onyma, dialectal form of onoma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name"). It often serves to call up associations not suggested by the literal name. Related: Metonymic; metonymical; metonymically.ETD metonymy (n.).2

    metopic (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to the forehead," 1878, from Greek metōpon, literally "the space between the eyes," from meta "between" (see meta-) + ōps "the eye" (from PIE root *okw- "to see").ETD metopic (adj.).2

    metre (n.)

    chiefly British English spelling of meter (n.); for spelling, see -re.ETD metre (n.).2


    word-forming element meaning "process of measuring," Middle English -metrie, from French -metrie, from Latin -metria, from Greek -metria "a measuring of," from -metros "measurer of," from metron "measure," from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure."ETD -metry.2

    metric (adj.)

    "pertaining to the system of weights and measures based on the meter," 1855, from French métrique, from mèter (see meter (n.2)). In this sense, metrical is attested from 1797. Metric system is attested by 1855.ETD metric (adj.).2

    metrical (adj.)

    early 15c., "pertaining to versification, characterized by poetic measure or rhythm," from Latin metricus "metrical," from Greek metrikos "of or for meter, metrical," from metron "poetic meter" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"). Old English had meterlic in this sense. Meaning "pertaining to measure or the use of weights and measures" is from 1640s. Related: Metrically.ETD metrical (adj.).2

    metrics (n.)

    "the study of meter, the art of versification," 1892, variant of metric (n.); also see -ics.ETD metrics (n.).2

    metric (n.)

    "science of versification," 1760, from Latinized form of Greek he metrikē "prosody," plural of metron "meter, a verse; that by which anything is measured; measure, length, size, limit, proportion" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure"). Middle English had metrik "the branch of music which deals with measure or time" (late 15c.), from Medieval Latin metricus.ETD metric (n.).2


    word-forming element representing -metry + -ic.ETD -metric.2

    metricize (v.)

    also metricise, "convert to the metric system," by 1852, from metric (adj.) + -ize. Related: Metricized; metricizing. Earlier "to convert to poetic meter" (1850; see metric (n.)).ETD metricize (v.).2

    Metro (n.)

    Paris underground, 1904, from French abbreviation of Chemin de Fer Métropolitain "Metropolitan Railway" (see metropolitan (adj.)). French chemin de fer "railroad" is literally "iron road." Construction began in 1898.ETD Metro (n.).2

    Metroliner (n.)

    U.S. high-speed inter-city train, 1969, from metropolitan + liner.ETD Metroliner (n.).2

    metrology (n.)

    "the science of weights and measures," 1816, ultimately from Greek metron "measure, length, size" (see meter (n.2)) + -ology.ETD metrology (n.).2

    metronome (n.)

    mechanical musical time-keeper, 1815, coined in English from Greek metron "measure" (from PIE root *me- (2) "to measure") + nomos "regulating," verbal adjective of nemein "to regulate" (from PIE root *nem- "assign, allot; take"). The device was patented in England in 1815 by Johann Maelzel (1772-1838), German-born civil engineer and showman, who gave it its modern name, but he incorporated the ideas of a device invented in Amsterdam in 1814 by Dietrich Nikolaus Winkel (1777-1826). Related: Metronomic.ETD metronome (n.).2

    metronymic (n.)

    by 1841, "a name derived from the name of a mother or maternal ancestor;" by 1844 as an adjective, from Late Greek metrōnymikos "named for one's mother," from mētēr (genitive mētros) "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + onyma "name" (from PIE root *no-men- "name"). Related: Metronymically (1822).ETD metronymic (n.).2

    metropolis (n.)

    1530s, "seat of a metropolitan bishop," from Late Latin metropolis, which is from Greek (see metropolitan (n.)). Meaning "chief town or capital city of a province" is attested from 1580s; the earlier word for this in English was metropol (late 14c.) or metropolitan (mid-15c.). Related: Metropolitical "pertaining to or belonging to a metropolis."ETD metropolis (n.).2

    metropolitan (n.)

    mid-14c., "bishop having general superintendency over other bishops of his province," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolis "mother city" (from which others have been colonized), parent state of a colony," also "capital city," and, in Ecclesiastical Greek, "see of a metropolitan bishop," from meter "mother" (see mother (n.1)) + polis "city" (see polis).ETD metropolitan (n.).2

    In the early church, the bishop of a municipal capital of a province or eparchy, who had general superintendence over the bishops in his province. In modern Catholic use, an archbishop who has bishops under his authority; in the Greek church still the bishop of a municipal capital of a province, ranking above an archbishop.ETD metropolitan (n.).3

    metropolitanism (n.)

    "metropolitan spirit, ideas, or institutions," 1855, from metropolitan (adj.) + -ism.ETD metropolitanism (n.).2

    metropolitan (adj.)

    early 15c., "belonging to an (ecclesiastical) metropolis," from Late Latin metropolitanus, from Greek metropolites "resident of a city," from metropolis (see metropolitan (n.)). Meaning "residing in or connected with a chief or capital city" is from 1550s. In reference to underground city railways, it is attested from 1867.ETD metropolitan (adj.).2

    metrosexual (adj.)

    by 1996, from metropolitan + -sexual, ending abstracted from homosexual, heterosexual. Wikipedia defines it as "a portmanteau of metropolitan and heterosexual, coined in 1994 describing a man who is especially meticulous about his grooming and appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time and money on shopping as part of this."ETD metrosexual (adj.).2

    mettle (n.)

    1580s, a variant spelling of metal. Both forms of the word were used interchangeably (by Shakespeare and others) in the literal sense and in the figurative one of "stuff of which a person is made, (a person's) physical or moral constitution" (1550s), hence "natural temperament," specifically "ardent masculine temperament, spirit, courage" (1590s). The spellings diverged early 18c. and this form took the figurative sense. Related: Mettled.ETD mettle (n.).2

    mettlesome (adj.)

    "full of spirit, fiery, courageous," 1660s, from mettle + -some (1). Related: Mettlesomely; mettlesomeness.ETD mettlesome (adj.).2


    *meuə-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to push away."ETD *meue-.2

    It forms all or part of: commotion; emotion; mob; mobile; moment; momentary; momentous; momentum; motif; motility; motion; motive; moto-; motor; move; movement; mutiny; premotion; promote; remote; remove.ETD *meue-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit kama-muta "moved by love" and probably mivati "pushes, moves;" Greek ameusasthai "to surpass," amyno "push away;" Latin movere "move, set in motion;" Lithuanian mauti "push on."ETD *meue-.4

    mew (v.)

    "make a sound like a cat," early 14c., mewen, of imitative origin (compare German miauen, French miauler, Italian miagolare, Spanish maullar, and see meow). Sometimes also used of seagulls. Related: Mewed; mewing. As a noun from 1590s.ETD mew (v.).2

    mew (n.1)

    "seagull," Old English mæw, from Proto-Germanic *maigwis (source also of Old Saxon mew, Frisian meau, Middle Dutch and Middle Low German mewe, Dutch meeuw "gull"), imitative of its cry. Old French moue (Modern French mouette) and Lithuanian mėvas probably are Germanic loan-words.ETD mew (n.1).2

    mew (n.2)

    "cage for birds; place where hawks are put to molt," late 14c., from Old French mue "cage for hawks," especially when molting, from muer "to molt," from Latin mutare "to change" (from PIE root *mei- (1) "to change"). In extended use, "a place of retirement or confinement" (early 15c.). Also as a verb, "to shut up, confine" (mid-15c.).ETD mew (n.2).2

    mews (n.)

    "stables grouped around an open yard," 1630s, from Mewes, name of the royal stables at Charing Cross, built 1534 on the site of the former royal mews (attested from late 14c.), where the king's hawks were kept (see mew (n.2)). Extended by 1630s to "an alley or court in a large town on which stables are situated" and by 1805 to "street of former stables converted to human habitations."ETD mews (n.).2

    mewl (v.)

    "to cry feebly," c. 1600, imitative of a cat or a child. Related: Mewled; mewling.ETD mewl (v.).2


    c. 1600 (n.) "native or inhabitant of Mexico;" by 1640s (adj.) "native of or pertaining to Mexico or its inhabitants," from Mexico + -an. In the old U.S. Southwest it served as a general pejorative or dismissive adjective, much as Dutch did in the northeast: Mexican strawberries "beans;" Mexican standoff "battle that no one wins;" Mexican breakfast "a glass of water and a cigarette," etc. Mexican standoff "stalemate" is recorded from 1876.ETD Mexican.2


    republic lying to the south of the U.S., from Spanish, from Nahuatl (Aztecan) mexihco, which originally referred to the Valley of Mexico around present-day Mexico City. It became the name of the nation (formerly New Spain) upon independence from Spain in 1821.ETD Mexico.2

    mezuzah (n.)

    emblem consisting of a piece of parchment inscribed with certain words and placed in a small hollow cylinder and affixed to the right-hand doorpost in Jewish houses to protect from disease and evil spirits, 1640s, from Hebrew (Semitic), literally "doorpost."ETD mezuzah (n.).2

    mezzanine (n.)

    1711, "a low story between two higher ones in a building," from French mezzanine (17c.), from Italian mezzanino, from mezzano "middle," from Latin medianus "of the middle," from medius (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle"). Sense of "lowest balcony in a theater" recorded by 1913.ETD mezzanine (n.).2

    mezzo (adj.)

    "half, moderate," Italian mezzo, literally "middle," from Latin medius (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle"). Used in combinations such as mezzo-soprano (music, 1753); mezzo-rilievo (scuplture, 1590s); mezzotint (engraving, 1738).ETD mezzo (adj.).2

    mezzo-soprano (n.)

    in music, the part between soprano and contralto, 1753; see mezzo + soprano.ETD mezzo-soprano (n.).2

    mezzotint (n.)

    1738; see mezzo + tint. As a verb, from 1827.ETD mezzotint (n.).2


    initialism (acronym) of most favored nation, attested from 1942.ETD M.F.N..2


    British sports car manufacturer, 1923; it stands for Morris Garages, which was founded by William R. Morris (1877-1963).ETD MG.2


    abbreviation of Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, U.S. movie studio noted for the roaring lion in its emblem, attested from 1933.ETD MGM.2

    mis- (1)

    prefix of Germanic origin affixed to nouns and verbs and meaning "bad, wrong," from Old English mis-, from Proto-Germanic *missa- "divergent, astray" (source also of Old Frisian and Old Saxon mis-, Middle Dutch misse-, Old High German missa-, German miß-, Old Norse mis-, Gothic missa-), perhaps literally "in a changed manner," and with a root sense of "difference, change" (compare Gothic misso "mutually"), and thus possibly from PIE *mit-to-, from root *mei- (1) "to change."ETD mis- (1).2

    Productive as word-forming element in Old English (as in mislæran "to give bad advice, teach amiss"). In 14c.-16c. in a few verbs its sense began to be felt as "unfavorably," and it came to be used as an intensive prefix with words already expressing negative feeling (as in misdoubt). Practically a separate word in Old and early Middle English (and often written as such). Old English also had an adjective (mislic "diverse, unlike, various") and an adverb (mislice "in various directions, wrongly, astray") derived from it, corresponding to German misslich (adj.). It has become confused with mis- (2).ETD mis- (1).3

    mis- (2)

    word-forming element of Latin origin (in mischief, miscreant, misadventure, misnomer, etc.), from Old French mes- "bad, badly, wrong, wrongly," from Vulgar Latin *minus-, from Latin minus "less" (from suffixed form of PIE root *mei- (2) "small"), which was not used as a prefix in Latin but in the Romanic languages was affixed to words as a depreciative or negative element. The form in French perhaps was influenced in Old French by *miss-, the Frankish (Germanic) form of mis- (1).ETD mis- (2).2


    symbol-word for the third tone in a musical scale, 1520s; see gamut.ETD mi.2


    1939, from abbreviation of Military Intelligence, followed by the department number.ETD MI5.2


    also m.i.a., initialism (acronym) of missing in action, attested from 1919 (see missing).ETD MIA.2


    place name in U.S.; the one in Florida is of unknown origin, attested in Spanish as Maymi (1566), Mayaimi (1575). The one in Ohio is from the Miami, native people there, attested from 18c., apparently from a native word /myaamiwa "downstream person."ETD Miami.2

    miasma (n.)

    1660s, "effluvia arising from the ground and floating in the atmosphere, considered to be infectious or injurious to health," from Modern Latin miasma "noxious vapors," from Greek miasma (genitive miasmatos) "stain, pollution, defilement, taint of guilt," from stem of miainein "to pollute," from possible PIE root *mai- (2) "to stain, soil, defile" (source of Old English mal "stain, mark," see mole (n.1)). Earlier form was miasm (1640s), from French miasme. Related: Miasmatic "pertaining to or caused by miasma;" miasmal "containing miasma;" miasmatous "generating miasma."ETD miasma (n.).2

    mic (n.)

    shortened form of microphone, attested by 1961.ETD mic (n.).2

    mica (n.)

    type of mineral that can be separated easily into extremely thin, tough laminae, 1706, from a Modern Latin specialized use of Latin mica "crumb, bit, morsel, grain." This is sometimes said to be from the same source as Attic Greek mikros "small" (see micro-). The word was applied to the mineral probably on the supposition that it was related to Latin micare "to flash, glitter" (see micacious). However a recent theory of the origin of the Latin noun does derive it from the same root as micare, on the notion of "a glittering crystalline particle" (originally a grain of salt), which de Vaan finds "formally more attractive" than the connection to the Greek word. Older native names for it were glimmer and cat-silver. Related: Micaceous "containing mica" (1748).ETD mica (n.).2

    micacious (adj.)

    "sparkling," 1836, from Late Latin micāre "to shine, sparkle, flash, glitter, quiver," from PIE *mik-(e)ie- "to blink" (source also of Czech mikati "to move abruptly," Upper Sorbian mikac "to blink").ETD micacious (adj.).2


    masc. proper name, sixth of the Old Testament prophets, from Hebrew Mikhah, short for Mikhayah, literally "who is like the Lord?" The first element identical to that in Michael; for the second element, see Jah.ETD Micah.2

    Micawber (n.)

    as a type of a childishly impractical man living in optimistic fantasy, by 1852, from the character of Wilkins Micawber in Dickens' "David Copperfield" (1850).ETD Micawber (n.).2

    mice (n.)

    plural of mouse (n.), from Old English mys. It shows effects of i-mutation.ETD mice (n.).2


    masc. proper name, also the name of an archangel, from Late Latin Michael (source of French Michel, Spanish Miguel), from Greek Mikhael, from Hebrew Mikha-el, literally "Who is like God?" The modern form of the name was a learned form in Middle English, where the common form was Michel (also Mihhal, Mighel, etc.), from Old French. The surname Mitchell might be from the old pronunciation of Michael or in some cases it might be from Old English mycel "big."ETD Michael.2

    Michaelmas (n.)

    early 12c., Sanct Micheles mæsse, the feast of the dedication of St. Michael the Archangel (Sept. 29), from Michael + mass (n.2). It was an English quarter day in the old business and university calendars. Goose is the day's traditional fare at least since 15c.ETD Michaelmas (n.).2


    type of tires, 1902, from French motor vehicle manufacturers André (1853-1931) and Édouard (1859-1940) Michelin, who first made the tires. In reference to the popular touring and gastronomic guides published by the company since 1900, by 1919 in English. The surname is a diminutive of Michel (see Michael).ETD Michelin.2

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