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    moderate (v.) — Moloch

    moderate (v.)

    early 15c., "to abate excessiveness, reduce the intensity of;" from Latin moderatus "within bounds, observing moderation;" figuratively "modest, restrained," past participle of moderari "to regulate, mitigate, restrain, temper, set a measure, keep (something) within measure," from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Intransitive sense of "become less violent, severe, rigorous, etc." is from 1670s. Meaning "to preside over a debate" is first attested 1570s. Related: Moderated; moderating.ETD moderate (v.).2

    moderate (n.)

    "one who holds moderate opinions on controversial subjects, one who is opposed to extreme views or courses," 1794 (Burke), from moderate (adj.). Related: Moderatism.ETD moderate (n.).2

    moderator (n.)

    late 14c., moderatour, "that which regulates the movement of the celestial spheres," from Latin moderator "manager, ruler, director," literally "he who moderates," from moderatus "within bounds, observing moderation;" figuratively "modest, restrained," past participle of moderari "to regulate, mitigate, restrain, temper, set a measure, keep (something) within measure," from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures."ETD moderator (n.).2

    Meaning "one who acts as an arbitrator, person who presides at a meeting or disputation" is from 1560s. Fem. form moderatrix attested from 1530s.ETD moderator (n.).3

    moderate (adj.)

    "not excessive in amount, intensity, quality, etc.," late 14c., originally of weather and other physical conditions, from Latin moderatus "within bounds, observing moderation;" figuratively "modest, restrained," past participle of moderari "to regulate, mitigate, restrain, temper, set a measure, keep (something) within measure," from PIE *med-es-, from root *med- "take appropriate measures." The notion is "keeping within due measure." In English, of persons from early 15c., of opinions from 1640s, of prices from 1670s. Related: Moderateness.ETD moderate (adj.).2

    modern (n.)

    1580s, "person of the present time" (contrasted to ancient), from modern (adj.). From 1897 as "one who is up to date."ETD modern (n.).2

    modernism (n.)

    1737, "deviation from the ancient and classical manner" [Johnson, who calls it "a word invented by Swift"], from modern (adj.) + -ism. From 1830 as "modern ways and styles." As a movement in the arts (away from classical or traditional modes), from 1924.ETD modernism (n.).2

    modernity (n.)

    1620s, "quality or state of being modern," from Medieval Latin modernitatem, noun of quality from modernus (see modern (adj.)). Meaning "something that is modern" is from 1733.ETD modernity (n.).2

    modernization (n.)

    "act of modernizing; state of being modernized," 1743, noun of action or state from modernize.ETD modernization (n.).2

    modern (adj.)

    c. 1500, "now existing;" 1580s, "of or pertaining to present or recent times;" from French moderne (15c.) and directly from Late Latin modernus "modern" (Priscian, Cassiodorus), from Latin modo "just now, in a (certain) manner," from modo (adv.) "to the measure," ablative of modus "manner, measure" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Extended form modern-day attested from 1872.ETD modern (adj.).2

    In history, in the broadest sense, opposed to ancient and medieval, but often in more limited use. In Shakespeare, often with a sense of "every-day, ordinary, commonplace." Meaning "not antiquated or obsolete, in harmony with present ways" is by 1808.ETD modern (adj.).3

    Of languages, indicating the current form of Greek, etc., 1690s; modern languages as a department of study (1821) comprised those now living (i.e. not Latin or Greek) that were held to have literary or historical importance. The use of modern English is at least from c. 1600 (in Cowell's "Interpreter," explaining an Anglo-Saxon word). The scientific linguistic division of historical languages into old, middle, and modern is from 19c.ETD modern (adj.).4

    Slang abbreviation mod is attested from 1960. Modern art is from 1807 (in contrast to ancient; in contrast to traditional, representing departure or repudiation of accepted styles, by 1895); modern dance is attested by 1912; modern jazz by 1954. Modern conveniences is recorded by 1926.ETD modern (adj.).5

    modernize (v.)

    "give a modern character or appearance to, cause to conform to modern ideas, adapt to modern persons," 1680s, from modern (adj.) + -ize, or from French moderniser. Related: Modernized; modernizing; modernizer (1739).ETD modernize (v.).2

    modernise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of modernize (q.v.); for suffix, see -ize. Related: Modernised; modernising; modernisation.ETD modernise (v.).2

    modernistic (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or suggestive of modernism or what is modern," 1878, from modernist + -ic.ETD modernistic (adj.).2

    modernist (n.)

    1580s, "a modern person," from modern (adj.) + -ist. Later, "one who admires or prefers the modern" (as opposed to the classical), 1704. As a follower of a movement in the arts (see modernism), attested from 1925.ETD modernist (n.).2

    modest (adj.)

    1560s, "having moderate self-regard, restrained by a sense of propriety or humility," from French modeste (14c.), from Latin modestus "moderate, keeping due measure, sober, gentle, temperate," from modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Of women, "not improper or lewd, pure in thought and conduct," 1590s; of female attire, "not gaudy or showy," 1610s. Of demands, etc., "not excessive or extreme," c. 1600. Related: Modestly.ETD modest (adj.).2

    modesty (n.)

    1530s, "freedom from exaggeration, self-control," from French modestie or directly from Latin modestia "moderation, sense of honor, correctness of conduct," from modestus "moderate, keeping due measure, sober, gentle, temperate," from modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Meaning "quality of having a moderate opinion of oneself, retiring demeanor, disinclination to presumption, unobtrusiveness" is from 1550s; that of "womanly propriety, purity or delicacy of thought or manner" is from 1560s.ETD modesty (n.).2

    mody (adj.)

    "fashionable," 1701, from mode (n.2) + -y (2).ETD mody (adj.).2

    modicum (n.)

    "small quantity or portion," late 15c., Scottish, from Latin modicum "a little," noun use of neuter of modicus "moderate, having a proper measure; ordinary, scanty, small, few," from modus "measure, extent, quantity; proper measure," from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures."ETD modicum (n.).2

    modification (n.)

    c. 1500, in philosophy, "determination by a mode or quality," from French modification (14c.) and directly from Latin modificationem (nominative modificatio) "a measuring," noun of action from past-participle stem of modificare (see modify). Sense of "a result of a variation or alteration" is from 1660s. Meaning "act or process of altering in character, form, or function" is from 1774.ETD modification (n.).2

    modifier (n.)

    1580s, "one who or that which modifies," agent noun from modify. Grammatical sense of "word, phrase, or clause which modifies another" is from 1865.ETD modifier (n.).2

    modify (v.)

    late 14c., modifien, "alter, amend, adjust, change the properties, form, or function of;" also "set limits, keep within the bounds of reason; choose a middle course," from Old French modifier (14c.), from Latin modificare "to limit, measure off, restrain," from modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures") + combining form of facere "to make" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Related: Modified; modifying.ETD modify (v.).2

    modish (adj.)

    "fashionable, stylish," often with a hint of contempt, 1650s, from mode (n.2) + -ish. "Very common in 17-18 c.; now somewhat arch[aic]." [OED]. Related: Modishly; modishness.ETD modish (adj.).2

    modist (n.)

    "follower of fashion," by 1830, from mode (n.2) + -ist.ETD modist (n.).2

    modus (n.)

    "way in which anything is done," 1640s, from Latin modus (plural modi) "measure, extent, quantity; proper measure, rhythm, song; a way, manner, fashion, style," from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures." Especially in modus operandi and modus vivendi.ETD modus (n.).2

    module (n.)

    1580s, "allotted measure," a sense now obsolete, from French module (1540s) or directly from Latin modulus "small measure," diminutive of modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures").ETD module (n.).2

    Sense of "a standard measure to regulate proportions" is from 1620s. Meaning "interchangeable part" is recorded by 1955, via the notion of "length chosen as the basis for the dimensions of parts of a building, etc." (1936); that of "separate section of a spacecraft" is from 1961.ETD module (n.).3

    modulate (v.)

    1610s, in music, "vary or inflect the sound of," especially to give expressiveness, "vary the pitch of," back-formation from modulation, or else from Latin modulatus, past participle of modulari "regulate, measure off properly, measure rhythmically; play, play upon," from modulus "small measure," diminutive of modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures").ETD modulate (v.).2

    General sense of "modify, adjust, adapt, regulate in measure or proportion" is from 1620s. The intransitive musical sense of "pass from one key to another, or between major and minor" is attested by 1721. In telecommunications from 1908. Meaning "exert a controlling influence on, regulate" is by 1964. Related: Modulated; modulating.ETD modulate (v.).3

    modulation (n.)

    late 14c., modulacioun, "act of singing or making music, harmony," from Old French modulation "act of making music" (14c.) and directly from Latin modulationem (nominative modulatio) "rhythmical measure, singing and playing, melody," noun of action from past-participle stem of modulari "regulate, measure off properly, measure rhythmically; play, play upon," from modulus "small measure," diminutive of modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Meaning "act of regulating according to measure or proportion" is from 1530s. Musical sense of "action or process of changing from one key to another" is by 1690s.ETD modulation (n.).2

    modulator (n.)

    c. 1500, "one who or that which modulates," from Latin modulator "one who measures by rule, a regulator" in various senses (such as "musical director"), agent noun from past participle stem of modulari "regulate, measure off properly" (see modulate). Meaning "device that produces modulation of a wave" is from 1919.ETD modulator (n.).2

    modularity (n.)

    "property of being modular," 1909, from modular + -ity.ETD modularity (n.).2

    modular (adj.)

    1798, as a term in mathematics, "pertaining to modulation," from French modulaire or directly from Modern Latin modularis, from Latin modulus "a small measure," diminutive of modus "measure, manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures"). Meaning "composed of interchangeable units" is recorded by 1936.ETD modular (adj.).2

    modus operandi (n.)

    "way of doing or accomplishing," 1650s, Latin, literally "mode of operating" (see modus). Abbreviation m.o. is attested from 1955.ETD modus operandi (n.).2

    modus vivendi (n.)

    "mode of living," especially a working agreement between contending parties, 1844, Latin, literally "way of living or getting along" (see modus).ETD modus vivendi (n.).2


    former large lake of northern Egypt, from Greek moiris, from Egyptian mer-ur "big lake," from mer "lake" + ur "big."ETD Moeris.2

    moerologist (n.)

    also moirologist, "professional mourner," by 1868, from Greek moira "part, lot, fate" (see Moira) + -logia, from root of legein "to speak" (see -logy). Related: Moerology.ETD moerologist (n.).2

    moeurs (n.)

    "behavior, customs, or habits of a people," by 1922, from French moeurs, from Latin mores "customs, manners, morals" (see moral (adj.)).ETD moeurs (n.).2


    city in Somalia, from Arabic mukaddas "holy."ETD Mogadishu.2

    Mogen David

    "star of David," six-pointed star, symbol of Judaism or Zionism, 1904, from Hebrew maghen Dawidh "shield of David," king of Judah and Israel, who died c. 973 B.C.E.ETD Mogen David.2

    mogul (n.1)

    "powerful person," 1670s, from Great Mogul (1580s), the common designation among Europeans for the Mongol emperor of India after the conquest of 1520s, from Persian and Arabic mughal, mughul, alteration of Mongol (q.v.), the Asiatic people. As a name for the best quality of playing cards, by 1742, so called for the design on the back.ETD mogul (n.1).2

    mogul (n.2)

    "elevation on a ski slope," 1961, probably [Barnhart] from Scandinavian (compare dialectal Norwegian mugje, fem. muga, "a heap, a mound"), or [OED] from southern German dialect mugel in the same sense.ETD mogul (n.2).2

    mohair (n.)

    1610s, earlier mocayre, 1560s, "fine hair of the Angora goat," also a fabric made from this, from French mocayart (16c.), Italian mocaiarro, both from Arabic mukhayyar "cloth of goat hair," literally "selected, choice," from mu-, noun prefix, + khayar "choosing, preferring." The stuff was imported to Europe 14c.-15c. under the name camlet. Later used of imitations made of wool and cotton. Spelling influenced in English by association with hair. Moire "watered silk" (1650s) also used in reference to the shimmering visual effect, probably represents English mohair borrowed into French and back into English.ETD mohair (n.).2


    former common English transliteration of Muhammad.ETD Mohammed.2

    Mohammedan (adj.)

    "pertaining to Mohammed" (q.v.). As a noun, "a Muslim." Related: Mohammedanism.ETD Mohammedan (adj.).2


    name of a North American native people of upper New York and adjacent Canada, and their (Iroquoian) language, 1630s, Mohowawogs (plural), which is said to derive from a word in a southern New England Algonquian tongue meaning "they eat living things," perhaps a reference to cannibalism. Compare Unami Delaware /muhuwe:yck/ "cannibal monsters." The people's name for themselves is kanye'keha:ka.ETD Mohawk.2

    In reference to the haircut style favored by punk rockers, c. 1975, from fancied resemblance to hair as worn by the native people in old movies and illustrations. The style of cut earlier was called a Mohican (1960). Mohoc, Mohock, a variant form of the word, was the name given 1711 to gangs of aristocratic London ruffians (compare Apache). As the name of turn in figure skating that involves a change of foot but not a change of edge, by 1880.ETD Mohawk.3


    North American native people of Algonquian stock, from Mahican (Algonquian) ma:hi:kan "people of the tidal estuary." The spelling with -o- was popularized by James Fenimore Cooper's novel (1826). Mohegan is a variant form.ETD Mohican.2

    moiety (n.)

    "an equal half, a half part or share," mid-15c., moite, from Old French moite, earlier meitiet (12c., Modern French moitié) "half; middle; portion, piece," from Latin medietatem (nominative medietas) "half," originally "middle point," from medius "middle" (from PIE root *medhyo- "middle").ETD moiety (n.).2

    moil (v.)

    c. 1400, "to wet, moisten," from Old French moillier "to wet, moisten" (12c., Modern French mouiller), from Vulgar Latin *molliare, from Latin mollis "soft," from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft." Sense of "drudge, labor, toil" (1540s) probably is via the notion of "to labor in dirt or mire." Related: Moiled; moiling.ETD moil (v.).2

    moil (n.)

    "toil, labor, drudgery," 1610s, from moil (v.).ETD moil (n.).2

    moire (n.)

    "watered silk," 1650s, from French moire (17c.); see mohair. As an adjective, moiré "having the appearance of watered silk," it is attested from 1823.ETD moire (n.).2


    fem. proper name, also the name of one of the Fates, from Greek Moira, literally "share, fate," related to moros "fate, destiny, doom," meros "part, lot," meiresthai "to receive one's share" (from PIE root *(s)mer- (2) "to get a share of something").ETD Moira.2

    moist (adj.)

    late 14c., "slightly wet; well-irrigated, characterized by moistness," from Old French moiste "damp, wet, soaked" (13c., Modern French moite), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from Vulgar Latin *muscidus "moldy," also "wet," from Latin mucidus "slimy, moldy, musty," from mucus "slime" (see mucus). Alternative etymology [Diez] is from Latin musteus "fresh, green, new," literally "like new wine," from musteum "new wine" (see must (n.1)). If this wasn't the source, it influenced the form of the other word in Old French. Related: Moistly; moistness (mid-14c.).ETD moist (adj.).2

    moisten (v.)

    "make moist or damp," 1570s, from moist + -en (1). Related: Moistened; moistening. The earlier verb was simply moist (mid-14c.), from Old French moistir.ETD moisten (v.).2

    moistener (n.)

    "one who or that which moistens," 1610s, agent noun from moisten (v.).ETD moistener (n.).2

    moisturize (v.)

    "impart moisture to, remove dryness, make slightly damp or wet," 1915 (implied in moisturizing), in reference to a commercial egg incubator, from moisture + -ize. By 1953 in reference to creams and lotions for the skin. Related: Moisturized; moisturization.ETD moisturize (v.).2

    moisture (n.)

    "diffused and perceptible wetness," mid-14c., from Old French moistour "moisture, dampness, wetness" (13c., Modern French moiteur), from moiste (see moist).ETD moisture (n.).2

    moisturizer (n.)

    1915, in mechanical descriptions of humidifier systems, agent noun from moisturize.ETD moisturizer (n.).2


    Native American people of Yuman stock living along the Colorado River, also Mohave, 1831, from native (Yuman) name, hamakhaav, perhaps containing aha "water."ETD Mojave.2

    mojito (n.)

    type of rum-based Cuban cocktail, by 1946, from Cuban Spanish, a diminutive of mojo, a word for certain sauces and marinades; Ayto ("Diner's Dictionary") considers it to be "probably a reapplication of the Spanish adjective mojo 'wet,'" from mojar "to moisten, make wet," from Vulgar Latin *molliare "to soften by soaking," from Latin mollire "to soften" (see emollient).ETD mojito (n.).2

    mojo (n.)

    "magic," 1920s, probably of Creole origin; compare Gullah moco "witchcraft," Fula moco'o "medicine man." It was noted in 1935 as an underworld name for "any of the poisonous, habit-forming narcotics."ETD mojo (n.).2

    moke (n.)

    slang word meaning "dolt," 1855, originally (16c.) "donkey;" of unknown origin, perhaps originally a personal name. In U.S., "black person," from 1856, perhaps a different word.ETD moke (n.).2

    mola (n.1)

    "large, clumsy type of tropical fish, sunfish," 1670s, from Latin mola, literally "millstone" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). So called because of the fish's shape and rough skin. Attested in nativized form mole from c. 1600.ETD mola (n.1).2

    mola (n.2)

    also mole (late 14c.), "false conception; shapeless, compacy, fleshy mass in the uterus," from Latin mola "false conception," from earlier sense "salt cake;" literally "millstone" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind"). The Latin form is attested in English from c. 1600.ETD mola (n.2).2

    molar (adj.)

    in chemistry, "pertaining to one mole of a substance," 1902, from mole (n.4) + -ar. Earlier it meant "pertaining to mass," from Latin moles "mass."ETD molar (adj.).2

    molar (n.)

    "grinding tooth, back-tooth," mid-14c., from Latin molaris dens "grinding tooth," from mola "millstone," from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." As an adjective, "grinding, crushing," as distinguished from "cutting" or "piercing," from 1620s. In Old English they were cweornteð "quern-teeth."ETD molar (n.).2

    molasses (n.)

    "uncrystallized syrup produced in the manufacture of sugar," 1580s, from Portuguese melaço, from Late Latin mellaceum "new wine," properly neuter of mellaceus "resembling honey," from Latin mel (genitive mellis) "honey" (from PIE root *melit- "honey"). Adopted in English in plural form and generally remaining so, but regarded as a singular noun.ETD molasses (n.).2

    mold (v.)

    also mould, mid-14c., "to mix, blend (something) by kneading;" late 14c. "to knead (bread), form into a particular shape," from mold (n.1). Figurative sense (of character, etc.) is from c. 1600. Related: Molded; molding.ETD mold (v.).2

    mold (n.2)

    also mould, "minute, furry fungus," especially the types growing on neglected food and decaying organic matter, c. 1400, molde, probably from moulde, past participle of moulen "to grow moldy" (early 13c.), related to Old Norse mygla "grow moldy," possibly from Proto-Germanic *(s)muk- indicating "wetness, slipperiness," from PIE *meug- (see mucus). Or it might have evolved from (or been influenced by) Old English molde "loose earth" (see mold (n.3)).ETD mold (n.2).2

    mold (n.1)

    also mould, "hollow pattern of a particular form by which something is shaped or made," c. 1200, originally in a figurative sense, "fashion, form; nature, native constitution, character," metathesized from Old French modle "model, plan, copy; way, manner" (12c., Modern French moule), from Latin modulum (nominative modulus) "measure, model," diminutive of modus "manner" (from PIE root *med- "take appropriate measures").ETD mold (n.1).2

    By c. 1300 as "form into which molten metal, etc., is run to obtain a cast." By 1570s as "a form of metal or earthenware (later plastic) to give shape to jellies or other food. Figurative use of break the mold "render impossible the creation of another" is from 1560s.ETD mold (n.1).3

    mold (n.3)

    "fine, soft, loose earth," Old English molde "earth, sand, dust, soil; land, country, world," from Proto-Germanic *mulda (source also of Old Frisian molde "earth, soil," Old Norse mold "earth," Middle Dutch moude, Dutch moude, Old High German molta "dust, earth," Gothic mulda "dust"), from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind." Specifically, since late (Christian) Old English, "the earth of the grave." Also, from c. 1300 as "earth as the substance out of which God made man; the 'dust' to which human flesh returns."ETD mold (n.3).2

    molding (n.)

    also moulding, early 14c., "act of kneading;" late 14c., "process of shaping any plastic substance into a given form;" see mold (n.1). Architectural sense "construction element modified to introduce varieties of outline or contour" is from mid-15c.; carpentry sense is from 1670s.ETD molding (n.).2

    molded (adj.)

    also moulded, "formed in or as in a mold," 1680s, past-participle adjective from mold (v.).ETD molded (adj.).2

    moldable (adj.)

    also mouldable, "capable of being molded," 1620s, from mold (v.) + -able. Related: Moldably; moldability.ETD moldable (adj.).2


    historical region in Eastern Europe between the Carpathian Mountains and the River Dniester, a Latinized form of Moldova. Related: Moldavian, which is attested from c. 1600 as a noun in reference to the Moldavian language; by 1630s as "native or inhabitant of Moldavia" and as an adjective, "of or pertaining to Moldavia or its people or language."ETD Moldavia.2

    molder (v.)

    also moulder, "to crumble away, turn to mold or dust by natural decay," 1530s, probably frequentative based on mold (n.3) "loose earth." Related: Moldered; moldering.ETD molder (v.).2

    molder (n.)

    also moulder, mid-15c. (late 13c. as a surname), "one who molds or forms into shape," agent noun from mold (v.).ETD molder (n.).2

    moldy (adj.)

    also mouldy, "overgrown or covered with mold, decaying," 1570s, earlier mowly (late 14c.), from mold (n.2) + -y (2). Related: Moldiness.ETD moldy (adj.).2


    country in Eastern Europe, named for the river through it, probably from a PIE word meaning "dark, darkish color, soiled, black" (see melano-).ETD Moldova.2

    moldwarp (n.)

    also mouldwarp, early 14c., moldewarp, "the mole," from Proto-Germanic *moldo-worpo(n)-, literally "earth-thrower," from to Old English molde "earth, soil" (see mold (n.3)) + weorpan "to throw" (see warp (v.)). Common Germanic, compare Old Saxon moldwerp, Dutch mulworp, Norwegian moldvarp, Danish muldvarp, Old High German multwurf, German Maulwurf (which has been influenced by Maul "mouth"). For many years it has been only a provincial word.ETD moldwarp (n.).2

    mole (n.3)

    "massive structure used as a breakwater," 1540s, from French môle "breakwater" (16c.), ultimately from Latin moles "mass, massive structure, barrier," perhaps from PIE root *mō- "to exert oneself" (source also of Greek molos "effort," molis "hardly, scarcely;" German mühen "to tire," müde "weary, tired;" Russian majat' "to fatigue, exhaust," maja "hard work").ETD mole (n.3).2

    mole (n.1)

    spot on skin, Old English mal "spot, mark, blemish," especially on cloth or linen, from Proto-Germanic *mailan "spot, mark" (source also of Old High German meil, German Mal, Gothic mail "wrinkle"), from PIE root *mai- (2) "to stain, soil, defile" (source also of Greek miainein "to stain, defile," see miasma). Specifically of small, permanent dark marks on human skin from late 14c.ETD mole (n.1).2

    mole (n.2)

    type of small burrowing insectivorous mammal (genus Talpa), mid-14c., molle (early 13c. in surnames); perhaps a shortening of obsolete moldwarp, literally "earth-thrower," but this sort of abbreviation is rare at that early age, and perhaps it is rather directly from the root of mold (n.3) "loose earth." It may represent an unrecorded Old English word; compare Middle Dutch mol, molle, Middle Low German mol, mul.ETD mole (n.2).2

    From c. 1600 as a figure of "one who works in darkness" (in Middle English, moldewerpe was figurative of a cleric overly concerned with worldly things). The espionage sense of "secret agent who gradually attains a position deep within organization or nation" was popularized 1974 in John le Carré (but suggested from early 20c.), from the notion of "burrowing."ETD mole (n.2).3

    mole (n.4)

    unit of molecular quantity, 1902, from German Mol coined 1900 by German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald, short for Molekül (see molecule).ETD mole (n.4).2

    molecule (n.)

    1794, "extremely minute particle," from French molécule (1670s), from Modern Latin molecula, diminutive of Latin moles "mass, barrier" (see mole (n.3)). For ending see -cule. It has a vague meaning at first; the vogue for the word (used until late 18c. only in Latin form) can be traced to the philosophy of Descartes. First used of Modern Latin molecula in modern scientific sense ("smallest part into which a substance can be divided without destroying its chemical character") is by Amedeo Avogadro (1811).ETD molecule (n.).2

    molecular (adj.)

    "relating to or consisting of molecules," by 1815, from molecule + -ar or else from French moléculaire or Modern Latin molecularis. Molecular biology is attested by 1950.ETD molecular (adj.).2

    molehill (n.)

    also mole-hill, "mound or ridge of earth thrown up by moles in burrowing," mid-15c., from mole (n.2) + hill (n.). To make a mountain of a molehill "exaggerate an insignificant matter" is from 1560s.ETD molehill (n.).2

    moleskin (n.)

    1660s, "the skin of a mole, used as fur," from mole (n.2) + skin (n.). From 1803 as the name of a kind of extra strong fustian.ETD moleskin (n.).2

    molest (v.)

    late 14c., molesten, "to cause trouble, grief, or vexation, disturb, harass," from Old French molester "to torment, trouble, bother" (12c.) and directly from Latin molestare "to disturb, trouble, annoy," from molestus "troublesome, annoying, unmanageable," which is perhaps related to moles "mass" (see mole (n.3)) on notion of either "burden" or "barrier." Meaning "sexually assault" is attested by 1950. Related: Molested; molesting.ETD molest (v.).2

    molester (n.)

    1570s, "one who disturbs or annoys," agent noun from molest.ETD molester (n.).2

    molestation (n.)

    c. 1400, molestacioun, "action of annoying or vexing," from Old French molestacion "vexation, harassing," and directly from Medieval Latin molestationem (nominative molestatio), noun of action from past participle stem of molestare (see molest). In Scottish law it meant "the harassing of a person in his possession or occupation of lands;" in English common law it came to mean "injury inflicted upon another."ETD molestation (n.).2

    moly (n.)

    1570s, fabulous magical herb with white flowers and black root, given by Hermes to Odysseus as protection against Circe's sorcery, from Greek mōly, a word of of unknown and probably foreign origin. Beekes says probably Pre-Greek, and adds, "All proposed IE etymologies (see Frisk) have to be rejected." The plant itself has been variously identified.ETD moly (n.).2


    female proper name, shortened form of Mollie, Molly, itself a familiar of Mary. Used from c. 1600 for "prostitute," but in low slang by early 19c. it also meant "female companion not bound by ties of marriage, but often a life-mate" [Century Dictionary]. It became a general word for "woman" in old underworld slang, for instance Moll-buzzer "pickpocket who specializes in women;" Moll-tooler "female pick-pocket." U.S. sense of "a gangster's girlfriend" is by 1923.ETD Moll.2


    fem. proper name, a diminutive of Moll, which is a familiar form of Mary.ETD Molly.2

    molly (n.1)

    a common 18c. colloquial term for "homosexual man" or "man who is deemed effeminate, a sissy," by 1707, perhaps 1690s. The fem. proper name Molly or Moll served as a type-name of a low-class girl or prostitute in old songs and ballads (perhaps in part for the sake of the easy rhymes).ETD molly (n.1).2

    But the colloquial word also resembles Latin mollis "soft," which also had been used classically in a specific pejorative sense in reference to men, "soft, effeminate, unmanly, weak," in Cicero, Livy, etc. A 1629 publication from the Catholic-Protestant theological disputes, "Truth's triumph ouer Trent," written in English with swerves into Latin, at one point describes the denizens of Hell as fideles fornicarios, adulteros, molles, and so forth, and molles is translated parenthetically in the text as "effeminate." Molly House as a term for a brothel frequented by gay men is attested in a court case from 1726.ETD molly (n.1).3

    molly (n.2)

    seabird, 1857, short for mollymawk, mallemuck, from Dutch mallemok, from mal "foolish" + mok "gull."ETD molly (n.2).2

    mollification (n.)

    late 14c., mollificacioun, "act of softening; pacification, an appeasing," from Old French mollificacion (Modern French mollification), from Medieval Latin mollificationem (nominative mollificatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of mollificare (see mollify).ETD mollification (n.).2

    mollify (v.)

    late 14c., mollifien, "to soften (a substance)," from Old French mollifier or directly from Late Latin mollificare "make soft, mollify" from mollificus "softening," from Latin mollis "soft" (from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft") + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put"). Transferred sense of "soften in temper, appease, pacify" is recorded from early 15c. Related: Mollified; mollifying.ETD mollify (v.).2

    mollified (adj.)

    "softened, soothed; appeased, pacified," 1620s, past-participle adjective from mollify.ETD mollified (adj.).2

    mollusc (n.)

    see mollusk.ETD mollusc (n.).2

    Mollusca (n.)

    "division of invertebrate animals with soft, unsegmented bodies, no jointed legs, and commonly covered by hard shells," 1797, from Modern Latin mollusca, chosen by Linnaeus as the name of an invertebrate order (1758), from neuter plural of Latin molluscus "thin-shelled," from mollis "soft" (from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft"). Linnæus applied the word to a heterogeneous group of invertebrates, not originally including mollusks with shells; the modern scientific use is after a classification proposed 1790s by French naturalist Georges Léopole Chrétien Frédéric Dagobert, Baron Cuvier (1769-1832).ETD Mollusca (n.).2

    mollusk (n.)

    "soft-bodied invertebrate animal, usually with an external shell," 1783, mollusque (modern spelling from 1839), from French mollusque, from Modern Latin Mollusca (see Mollusca), the phylum name. Related: Molluscuous; molluscan.ETD mollusk (n.).2

    mollycoddle (v.)

    also molly-coddle, by 1839 (implied in mollycoddling), from a noun (by 1828) meaning "overly pampered, fastidious, effeminate male," from Molly (pet name formation from Mary), which had been used contemptuously at least since 1707 for "a milksop, an effeminate man" (see molly (n.1)) + coddle (q.v.). Related: Mollycoddled.ETD mollycoddle (v.).2

    Molly Maguire (n.)

    1867, a member of a secret society in the mining districts of Pennsylvania (suppressed in 1876), which was named for an earlier secret society in Ireland (1843) formed to resist evictions and payment of rents and to terrorize those involved in the processes. From Molly (see Moll) + common Irish surname Maguire. There appears never to have been a specific Molly Maguire, but members were said to sometimes wear women's clothing as disguise, hence the name.ETD Molly Maguire (n.).2


    Canaanite god frequently mentioned in Scripture, said to have been propitiated by sacrificing children (Leviticus xviii.21), from Latin Moloch, from Greek Molokh, from Hebrew molekh, from melekh "king," altered by the Jews with the vowel points from basheth "shame" to express their horror of the worship. Hence, figuratively, "any baleful influence to which everything is sacrificed" (1799).ETD Moloch.2

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