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    mop (v.) — Moscow

    mop (v.)

    "rub or wipe with or as with a mop," 1709 (in mop up), from mop (n.). Related: Mopped; mopping.ETD mop (v.).2

    mope (v.)

    1560s, "to move and act unconsciously;" 1580s, "to be listless and apathetic," the sound of the word perhaps somehow suggestive of low feelings (compare mop (v.) "make a wry mouth" (1560s); Low German mopen "to sulk," Dutch moppen "to grumble, to grouse," Danish maabe, dialectal Swedish mopa "to mope"). Related: Moped; moping; mopey; mopish.ETD mope (v.).2

    moped (n.)

    "motorized bicycle," 1956, probably via German, from Swedish (c. 1952), from (trampcykel med) mo(tor och) ped(aler) "pedal cycle with engine and pedals" (the earliest versions had auxiliary pedals). Compare obsolete English mo-bike (1925), from motor bicycle.ETD moped (n.).2

    moppet (n.)

    endearing term for a baby, a girl, etc., c. 1600," also "puppet made of cloth, rag-baby" (Johnson, 1755), from Middle English moppe "little child, baby doll" (mid-15c.) + -et, diminutive suffix. The Middle English word also meant "simpleton, fool," and may have been cognate with Low German mop "simpleton" [Barnhart]. Or, if "baby doll" is the original sense in Middle English, perhaps it is from Latin mappa "napkin, tablecloth," hence "rag doll."ETD moppet (n.).2

    mopsy (n.)

    1580s, a term of endearment, from mop, playful name for a baby or a doll (mid-15c.; see moppet). By 1700 as "an untidy woman" (provincial).ETD mopsy (n.).2

    mopstick (n.)

    "handle of a mop," 1710, from mop (n.) + stick (n.).ETD mopstick (n.).2

    moray (n.)

    "tropical eel-like fish," 1620s, from Portuguese moreia, from Latin muraena "sea eel, lamprey," from Greek smyraina, from smyros "sea eel."ETD moray (n.).2

    moraine (n.)

    "ridge of rock deposited along the edge of a glacier," 1789, from French moraine (18c.), from Savoy dialect morena "mound of earth," from Provençal morre "snout, muzzle," from Vulgar Latin *murrum "round object," a word of unknown origin, perhaps from a pre-Latin Alpine language. Related: Morainal; morainic.ETD moraine (n.).2

    morality (n.)

    late 14c., moralite, "moral qualities, virtuous conduct or thought," from Old French moralite (Modern French moralité) "moral (of a story); moral instruction; morals, moral character" (13c.) and directly from Late Latin moralitatem (nominative moralitas) "manner, character," from Latin moralis "of manners or morals; moral" (see moral (adj.)). Meaning "doctrine or system of ethical duties" is from mid-15c. Meaning "goodness, characteristic of being moral, virtuousness" is attested from 1590s.ETD morality (n.).2

    moralize (v.)

    c. 1400, moralizen, "expound or interpret spiritual or moral significance, draw a moral from," from Old French moraliser and directly from Late Latin moralizare, from moralis "of manners or morals; moral" (see moral (adj.)). Intransitive sense of "make moral reflections" is from 1640s. Related: Moralized; moralizing; moralization.ETD moralize (v.).2

    moral (adj.)

    mid-14c., "associated with or characterized by right behavior," also "associated with or concerning conduct or moral principles" (good or bad), from Old French moral (14c.) and directly from Latin moralis "proper behavior of a person in society," literally "pertaining to manners," coined by Cicero ("De Fato," II.i) to translate Greek ethikos (see ethics) from Latin mos (genitive moris) "one's disposition," in plural, "mores, customs, manners, morals," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps sharing a PIE root with English mood (n.1).ETD moral (adj.).2

    From late 14c. as "of or pertaining to rules of right conduct" (opposed to non-moral, amoral) and "morally good, in accordance with rules of right conduct" (opposed to immoral). Of persons, "habitually conforming to moral rules," 1630s. From 1680s with reference to rights, duties, etc., "founded on morality" (opposed to legal).ETD moral (adj.).3

    Applied to indirect effect in moral support (1823), moral victory (1888), where the notion is "pertaining to or affecting the character or conduct" (as distinguished from the intellectual or physical nature), a sense attested from 1590s; in this sense, compare morale. Related: Morally.ETD moral (adj.).4

    moral (n.)

    "moral exposition of a story, the doctrine inculcated by a fable or fiction, the practical lesson which anything is designed to teach," c. 1500, from moral (adj.) and from French moral and Medieval Latin moralia. In this sense, morality was used from late 14c. The earlier noun use of moral was "a commandment pertaining to morals."ETD moral (n.).2

    morale (n.)

    1752, "moral principles or practice," from French morale "morality, good conduct," from fem. of Old French moral "moral" (see moral (adj.)). Meaning "mental condition as regards confidence, courage, hope, etc." (especially as regards soldiers, sailors, or any body of persons engaged in a hazardous enterprise) is recorded by 1831, from confusion with French moral (Modern French distinguishes le moral "temperament" and la morale "morality").ETD morale (n.).2

    morals (n.)

    1610s, "a person's moral qualities," plural of moral (n.). Meaning "conduct, behavior, course of life in regard to right and wrong," often specifically with regard to sexual conduct, is by 1690s.ETD morals (n.).2

    moralise (v.)

    chiefly British English spelling of moralize; for suffix, see -ize. Related: Moralised; moralising.ETD moralise (v.).2

    moralistic (adj.)

    "inculcating morality," 1845; from moralist + -ic. Related: Moralistically.ETD moralistic (adj.).2

    moralist (n.)

    1620s, "moral person;" 1630s, "teacher of morals;" from moral (adj.) + -ist.ETD moralist (n.).2

    morass (n.)

    "tract of wet, swampy ground," 1650s, from Dutch moeras "marsh, fen," from Middle Dutch marasch, from Old French marais "marsh," from Frankish, possibly from West Germanic *marisk, from Proto-Germanic *mariskaz "like a lake," from *mari "sea" (from PIE root *mori- "body of water"). The word was influenced in Dutch by moer "moor" (see moor (n.)). Figurative use is attested from 1867. Replaced earlier mareis (early 14c.; see marish).ETD morass (n.).2

    moratoria (n.)

    Latin plural of moratorium.ETD moratoria (n.).2

    moratorium (n.)

    1875, originally a legal term for "authorization to a debtor to postpone due payment," from neuter of Late Latin moratorius "tending to delay," from Latin morari "to delay," from mora "pause, delay," from PIE *morh- "to hinder, delay" (source also of Sanskrit amurchat "to congeal, become solid;" Old Irish maraid "lasts, remains"). The word didn't come out of italics until 1914. General sense of "a postponement, deliberate temporary suspension" is recorded by 1932. Related: Moratorial.ETD moratorium (n.).2


    region in central Europe, Medieval Latin, named for the River Morva (German March, Latin Marus), which runs through it.ETD Moravia.2


    1550s (n.) "native or inhabitant of Moravia;" 1610s (adj.) "of or pertaining to Moravia or its people," from Moravia. From 1746, in reference to the Protestant sect (United Brethren) founded by Count Zinzendorf in the former German state of Moravia. It traces its origin to John Huss. Related: Moravianism.ETD Moravian.2

    morbid (adj.)

    1650s, "of the nature of a disease, indicative of a disease," from Latin morbidus "diseased," from morbus "sickness, disease, ailment, illness," according to de Vaan perhaps connected to the root of mori "to die," as "looking like death" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death), or from a non-IE word. Meaning "diseased, sickly" is from 1731. Transferred use, of mental states, "unwholesome, excessive, unreasonable" is by 1834. Related: Morbidly; morbidness. Middle English had morbous "diseased" (early 15c.), from Latin morbosus.ETD morbid (adj.).2

    morbidity (n.)

    "morbid condition or state," 1721, from morbid + -ity or from French morbidité.ETD morbidity (n.).2

    mordacious (adj.)

    "given to biting," 1640s (originally figurative, of words, speech, etc.), from Latin mordac-, stem of mordax "biting," from mordēre "to bite," which is perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm." Middle English had mordicant (adj.) "corrosive, caustic" (in medicine), early 15c., also mordicative. Related: Mordacity (c. 1600).ETD mordacious (adj.).2

    mordant (adj.)

    late 15c., "caustic, biting, severe" (of words, speech), from Old French mordant, literally "biting," present participle of mordre "to bite," from Latin mordēre "to bite, bite into; nip, sting;" figuratively "to pain, cause hurt," which is perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm." Related: Mordantly.ETD mordant (adj.).2

    The noun is first attested in a now-obsolete or archaic sense of "ornamented hooked clasp of a belt or girdle" (mid-14c.), from Old French mordant in this sense. In dyeing, "substance used in fixing colors," it is attested by 1791; as an adjective in dyeing, "having the property of fixing colors," by 1902. Related: Mordancy; mordantly.ETD mordant (adj.).3


    masc. proper name, biblical cousin of Esther, from Hebrew Mordekhay, from Akkad. Marduk, chief god of the city of Babylon.ETD Mordecai.2

    more (adj.)

    Old English mara "greater, relatively greater, more, stronger, mightier," used as a comparative of micel "great" (see mickle), from Proto-Germanic *maiz (source also of Old Saxon mera, Old Norse meiri, Old Frisian mara, Middle Dutch mere, Old High German meriro, German mehr, Gothic maiza), from PIE *meis- (source also of Avestan mazja "greater," Old Irish mor "great," Welsh mawr "great," Greek -moros "great," Oscan mais "more"), perhaps from a root *me- "big."ETD more (adj.).2

    Sometimes used as an adverb in Old English ("in addition"), but Old English generally used related ma "more" as adverb and noun. This became Middle English mo, but more in this sense began to predominate in later Middle English.ETD more (adj.).3

    As a noun, "a greater quantity, amount, or number," in Old English. More and more "larger and larger amounts" is from 12c. More or less "in a greater or lesser degree" is from early 13c.; appended to a statement to indicate nearness but not precision, from 1580s. The more the merrier "the larger the company the greater the enjoyment" is from late 14c. (þe mo þe myryer).ETD more (adj.).4

    mores (n.)

    "customs," 1907 (W.G. Sumner, "Folkways"), from Latin mores "customs, manners, morals" (see moral (adj.)).ETD mores (n.).2


    comparative word-forming element added to already comparative adjectives and adverbs, Middle English (innermore, outermore, furthermore, overmore, etc.), from more (adv.). The formation also was in Old Norse and the English use might be from Scandinavian.ETD -more.2

    morel (n.)

    type of edible mushroom, 1670s, from French morille (16c.), a word of uncertain origin, apparently from Germanic; compare Old High German morhilo (German Morchel) "a mushroom," diminutive of morha "root of a tree or plant," from Proto-Germanic *murhon- (source of Old English more "edible root," German Möhre "carrot").ETD morel (n.).2

    morello (n.)

    kind of bitter cherry with a dark red skin, 1640s, a word of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately from Latin amarus "bitter." Earlier form was morell (1610s).ETD morello (n.).2

    moreover (adv.)

    "beyond what has been said," late 14c., in phrase and yit more ouer "there is more to say;" from more (adv.) + over (adv.). Written as one word from late 14c.ETD moreover (adv.).2

    Moresco (adj.)

    "Moorish, of Moorish design or imitation of Moorish work," 1550s, from Italian moresco, from Moro (see Moor). As a type of Italian dance, 1620s. Compare Morisco, which is the Spanish form.ETD Moresco (adj.).2


    surname, a very old Celtic name. As a type of horse, 1840, named for Justin Morgan (1747-1798), Vermont horse-breeder and music teacher; the breed was developed from a stallion he owned.ETD Morgan.2

    morganatic (adj.)

    a word used to denote the marriage of a man of high rank to a woman of lower station with stipulations limiting her claims, also of the marriage of a woman of high rank to a man of lower station; 1727, from French morganatique (18c.), from Medieval Latin matrimonium ad morganaticam "marriage of the morning," probably from Old High German *morgangeba (Middle High German morgengabe) "morning gift," corresponding to Old English morgengifu (see morn + gift (n.) ).ETD morganatic (adj.).2

    In an unequal marriage between a man of royal blood and a common woman, this was a gift traditionally given to the wife on the morning after consummation, representing the only share she and her children may claim in the husband's estate. Also known as left-handed marriage, because the groom gives the bride his left hand instead of his right, but sometimes this latter term is used of a class of marriage (especially in Germany) where the spouse of inferior rank is not elevated, but the children inherit rights of succession. Related: Morganatically.ETD morganatic (adj.).3

    morgen (n.)

    1620s, an old measure of land in Holland (hence also in South Africa and colonial New York and New Jersey), roughly two acres but sometimes less, probably identical with Dutch morgen "morning" (see morn) and meaning "the amount of land one man can plow in a morning."ETD morgen (n.).2

    morgue (n.)

    "mortuary, place where bodies of persons found dead are taken to be claimed by family or friends," 1821, from French Morgue, originally a specific building in Paris where bodies were exposed for identification:ETD morgue (n.).2

    Before that it was the place where new prisoners were displayed to keepers to establish their identification. Thus the name is believed to be probably from French morgue "haughtiness, pride," originally "a sad expression, solemn look," from Old French morguer "look solemnly," from Vulgar Latin *murricare "to make a face, pout," from *murrum "muzzle, snout." The 1768 Dictionnaire Royal François-Anglois Et Anglois-François defines French morgue both as "A proud, big, haughty or stately look, stare, surliness, or surly look" and "A little gratel room wherein a new prisoner is set, and must continue some hours, that the Jailer's ordinary servants may the better take notice of his face."ETD morgue (n.).3

    Adopted 1880s as a general term in U.S., replacing earlier dead house, etc. In newspaper slang, "collection of pre-written obituary material of living persons" (1898), thence extended generally to "library of clips, photos, etc." (1918).ETD morgue (n.).4


    Proto-Indo-European root meaning "body of water."ETD *mori-.2

    It forms all or part of: aquamarine; Armorica; beche-de-mer; cormorant; mare (n.2) "broad, dark areas of the moon;" marina; marinate; marine; mariner; maritime; marsh; mere (n.1) "lake, pool;" Merlin; mermaid; merman; meerschaum; meerkat; morass; Muriel; rosemary; submarine; ultramarine; Weimar.ETD *mori-.3

    It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin mare; Old Church Slavonic morje, Russian more, Lithuanian marės, Old Irish muir, Welsh mor "sea;" Old English mere "sea, ocean; lake, pool," German Meer "sea."ETD *mori-.4

    moribund (adj.)

    1721, "about to die, in a dying state," from French moribund (16c.), from Latin moribundus "dying, at the point of death," from mori "to die," from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). Figurative sense of "near an end" is from 1837. Related: Moribundity.ETD moribund (adj.).2

    Morisco (adj.)

    "of or pertaining to Moors, Moorish, of Moorish design," 1550s, from Spanish morisco, from Moro (see Moor), and compare Moresco.ETD Morisco (adj.).2

    morituri te salutant

    Latin, literally "those about to die salute you," words addressed to emperor by gladiators upon entering the arena. Third person singular is moriturus te salutat, first person singular is moriturus te saluto.ETD morituri te salutant.2

    Mormon (n.)

    "adherent of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," 1830, introduced by the religion's founder, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), in Seneca County, N.Y., from Mormon, supposed prophet and author of "The Book of Mormon," explained by Smith as meaning more mon, from English more + Egyptian mon "good." As an adjective by 1842. Related: Mormonism.ETD Mormon (n.).2

    morn (n.)

    "the first part of the day, the morning," late 14c., contracted from Middle English morwen, morghen, from Old English (Mercian) margen (dative marne), earlier morgen (dative morgne) "morning, forenoon, sunrise," from Proto-Germanic *murgana- "morning" (source also of Old Saxon morgan, Old Frisian morgen, Middle Dutch morghen, Dutch morgen, Old High German morgan, German Morgen, Gothic maurgins), from PIE *merk-, perhaps from root *mer- "to blink, twinkle" (source of Lithuanian mirgėti "to blink"). By late 19c. relegated to poetry.ETD morn (n.).2

    morning (n.)

    "first part of the day" (technically from midnight to noon), late 14c., a contraction of mid-13c. morwenynge, moregeninge, from morn, morewen (see morn) + suffix -ing, on pattern of evening. Originally the time just before sunrise.ETD morning (n.).2

    As an adjective from 1530s; as a greeting by 1849, short for good morning. Morning after in reference to a hangover is from 1884; in reference to a type of contraception, attested by 1967. Morning sickness as a symptom of pregnancy is from 1793 (Old English had morgenwlætung). Morning glory, the twining plant, is from 1814, so called because the colorful trumpet-shaped flowers open only in the early morning. Morning star "Venus in the east before sunrise" is from 1530s (Old English had morgensteorra "morn-star").ETD morning (n.).3


    "Muslim Malay of the Philippines," 1886, from Spanish Moro, literally "Moor" (see Moor).ETD Moro.2

    morocco (n.)

    "kind of fine flexible leather," 1630s, earlier maroquin (16c.), via French; ultimately from Morocco, the country in northwest Africa, where the sumac-tanned goatskin leather first was made. Valued for its firmness of texture, flexibility, and grained surface, it was used to make durable book-bindings, for upholstering seats, and somewhat in shoe-making.ETD morocco (n.).2


    country in northwest Africa, from Italian, from Berber Marrakesh (properly the name of the city of Marrakesh), from Arabic Maghrib-al-Aqsa "Extreme West." Compare French Maroc, German Marokko. In English, the first vowel has been altered, apparently by influence of Moor. Related: Moroccan.ETD Morocco.2

    moronic (adj.)

    "of, pertaining to, or characteristic of morons," 1911, from moron + -ic. Related: Moronically.ETD moronic (adj.).2

    moron (n.)

    1910, medical Latin, "one of the highest class of feeble-minded persons," from Greek (Attic) mōron, neuter of mōros "foolish, dull, sluggish, stupid," a word of uncertain origin. The former connection with Sanskrit murah "idiotic" (see moratorium) is in doubt. Latin morus "foolish" is a loan-word from Greek.ETD moron (n.).2

    Adopted by the American Association for the Study of the Feeble-minded with a technical definition "adult with a mental age between 8 and 12;" used as an insult since 1922 and subsequently dropped from technical use. Linnæus had introduced morisis "idiocy."ETD moron (n.).3

    moroseness (n.)

    "sourness of temper, sullenness," 1660s, from morose + -ness. Earlier in the same sense was morosity (1530s), from French morosité, from Latin morositas.ETD moroseness (n.).2

    morose (adj.)

    1530s "gloomy, of a sour temper, sullen and austere," from Latin morosus "morose, peevish, hypercritical, fastidious," from mos (genitive moris) "habit, custom" (see moral (adj.)). In English, manners by itself means "(good) manners," but here the implication in Latin is "(bad) manners."ETD morose (adj.).2

    morosely (adv.)

    "sourly, with sullen austerity," 1650s, from morose + -ly (2).ETD morosely (adv.).2


    as a noun, in biology, "genetic variant of an animal," 1955; as a verb, in cinematic special effects, c. 1987, short for metamorphosis. Related: Morphed; morphing. Earlier it was a slang shortening of morphine (1912).ETD morph.2

    morpheme (n.)

    "smallest meaningful unit in a language," 1896 (but originally in a different sense, "root, suffix, prefix, etc."), from German morpheme, coined 1895 by Polish-born linguist Jan Baudouin de Courtenay (1845-1929), from Greek morphē "form, shape," a word of uncertain etymology, on analogy of phonème.ETD morpheme (n.).2


    late 14c., name for the god of dreams in Ovid, son of Sleep, literally "the maker of shapes," from Greek morphē "form, shape, figure," especially "a fine figure, a beautiful form; beauty, fashion, outward appearance," a word of uncertain etymology. Related: Morphean. Morphō was an epithet of Aphrodite at Sparta, literally "shapely."ETD Morpheus.2

    morphia (n.)

    "morphine" in Latin form, 1818; see morphine.ETD morphia (n.).2

    morphic (adj.)

    in biology, "of or pertaining to form," 1826, from Greek morphē "form, shape," a word of uncertain etymology, + -ic.ETD morphic (adj.).2

    morphine (n.)

    chief alkaloid of opium (used as a narcotic pain-killer), 1828, from French morphine or German Morphin (1816), name coined by German apothecary Friedrich Sertürner (1783-1840) in reference to Latin Morpheus (q.v.), Ovid's name for the god of dreams, from Greek morphē "form, shape, beauty, outward appearance," which is of unknown origin. So called because of the drug's sleep-inducing properties.ETD morphine (n.).2

    morphinomania (n.)

    "mad craving for morphine," 1885; see morphine + mania. Other words in the same sense were morphinism (1875, after German Morphiumsucht); morphiomania (1876). Related: Morphinomaniac; morphiomaniac.ETD morphinomania (n.).2


    before vowels morph-, word-forming element of Greek origin meaning "form, shape," from Greek morphē "form, shape; beauty, outward appearance," a word of uncertain etymology.ETD morpho-.2

    morphodite (n.)

    1839, colloquial mangling of hermaphrodite based on morpho-. An earlier mangling was mophrodite (1706); also see dyke.ETD morphodite (n.).2

    morphogenesis (n.)

    1863 in biology, "the production of the form or shape of an organism," from German (by 1844); see morpho- "form" + -genesis "birth, origin, creation." By 1958 in geology, "the formation of landscapes." Related: Morphogenetic.ETD morphogenesis (n.).2

    morphogeny (n.)

    in Haeckel's system, biological development of the forms of organisms, 1851; see morpho- + -geny.ETD morphogeny (n.).2

    morphology (n.)

    1824 in biology, "science of the outer form and inner structure of animals and plants," from German Morphologie (1817); see morpho- "shape" + -logy "study of." By 1869 in philology, "science of structure or forms in language." General sense of "shape, form, external structure or arrangement" is by 1890. Related: Morphological; morphologist. Related: Morphologist.ETD morphology (n.).2

    morphosis (n.)

    "mode of formation of an organ or organism," 1857, from German (by 1825), from Greek morphōsis "a forming, a shaping," from morphē "form, shape; outward appearance," a word of uncertain etymology.ETD morphosis (n.).2


    surname and masc. proper name, in some cases representing Maurice (common form Morice), or a nickname, Moorish, for one who is swarthy. As a style of furniture, wallpaper, etc., by 1874, in reference to poet and craftsman William Morris (1834-1896).ETD Morris.2

    morris-dance (n.)

    traditional English dance of persons in costume, mid-15c., moreys daunce "Moorish dance," from Flemish mooriske dans, from Old French morois "Moorish, Arab, black," from More "Moor" (see Moor). It is unknown why the English dance (which typically is based on the Robin Hood stories) was called this, unless it is in reference to fantastic dancing or costumes (compare Italian Moresco, a related dance, literally "Moorish;" German moriskentanz, French moresque).ETD morris-dance (n.).2

    morrow (n.)

    "morning," 12c. in compounds (morge-sclep "morning-sleep," morgewile "period around daybreak"); mid-13c. as morewe; c. 1300 as morwe; a shortened variation of morewen "morrow" (see morn). It was formerly common in the salutation good morrow (late 14c.).ETD morrow (n.).2

    Morse code (n.)

    character encoding system originally invented for use with the telegraph, by 1860, earlier Morse key (1858), so called in honor of Samuel F.B. Morse (1791-1872), U.S. inventor who produced a system of telegraphic communication in 1836. He invented both the recording telegraph and the alphabet of dots and dashes.ETD Morse code (n.).2

    morsel (n.)

    late 13c., "a bite, mouthful; small piece of food, fragment," from Old French morsel (Modern French morceau) "small bite, portion, helping," diminutive of mors "a bite," from Latin morsum, neuter of morsus "biting, a bite," past participle of mordēre "to bite," which is perhaps from an extended form of PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm."ETD morsel (n.).2

    mort (n.2)

    in hunting, "a flourish sounded on a horn at the death of the quarry, c. 1500, from Old French mort "dead," from Latin mortem (source also of Spanish muerte, Italian morte), accusative of mors "death" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). Or the French word might be from Vulgar Latin *mortus, from Latin mortuus, from the same PIE root. Mort was used earlier in Middle English as "death" (c. 1300).ETD mort (n.2).2

    mort (n.1)

    "girl, woman" (chaste or not, but especially one of roaming tendencies or loose morals), 1560s, canting jargon, and like most of it of unknown origin and no etymology.ETD mort (n.1).2

    mortal (adj.)

    late 14c., "deadly, destructive to life; causing or threatening death" (of illness, poisons, wounds, etc.); also, of persons or the body, "doomed to die, subject to death;" from Old French mortel "destined to die; deserving of death" and directly from Latin mortalis "subject to death, mortal, of a mortal, human," from mors (genitive mortis) "death."ETD mortal (adj.).2

    This is reconstructed to be from PIE *mr-o- "to die," *mr-to- "dead," *mr-ti- "death," all from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). The most widespread Indo-European root for "to die," it forms the common word for it except in Greek and Germanic.ETD mortal (adj.).3

    "Subject to death," hence "human, of or pertaining to humans" (early 15c.). Also from late 14c. as "implacable, to be satisfied only by death" (of hatreds, enemies, etc.). Meaning "extreme, very great" is from late 14c. A mortal sin (early 15c., opposed to venial) is one that incurs the penalty of spiritual death.ETD mortal (adj.).4

    mortally (adv.)

    late 14c., "to the death; resulting in death," also "bitterly, intensely," from mortal (adj.) + -ly (2).ETD mortally (adv.).2

    mortality (n.)

    mid-14c., mortalite, "condition of being subject to death or the necessity of dying," from Old French mortalite "massacre, slaughter; fatal illness; poverty; destruction" (12c.) and directly from Latin mortalitem (nominative mortalitas) "state of being mortal; subjection to death," from mortalis "subject to death, mortal," from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm" (also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).ETD mortality (n.).2

    The meaning "widespread death, numerousness of deaths; plague" is from c. 1400; the sense of "number of deaths from some cause or in a given period" is from 1640s, later especially in proportion to population.ETD mortality (n.).3

    mortal (n.)

    1520s, "mortal thing or substance;" 1560s, "a human being" (as subject to death); from mortal (adj.). Latin mortalis also was used as a noun, "a man, mortal, human being."ETD mortal (n.).2

    mortar (n.1)

    "mixture of cement, material used (in building) for binding together stones or bricks," mid-13c., from Old French mortier "builder's mortar, plaster; bowl for mixing" (13c.) and directly from Latin mortarium "mortar, mixture of lime and sand," also "crushed drugs," which probably is the same word as mortarium "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)), with the sense transferred from the bowl to the material prepared in it. Dutch mortel, German Mörtel are from Latin or French.ETD mortar (n.1).2

    mortar (n.2)

    "bowl for pounding, vessel in which substances are beaten to powder by means of a pestle," c. 1200, from Old French mortier "bowl; builder's mortar" and directly from Latin mortarium "bowl for mixing or pounding," also used of the material prepared in it, a word of unknown origin as it is impossible now to determine which sense was original. Watkins says probably from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm;" de Vaan finds this plausible. Late Old English had mortere, from the same Latin source, which might also be a source of the modern word. German Mörser also is from Latin.ETD mortar (n.2).2

    mortar (n.3)

    "short cannon, ordnance piece short in proportion to the size of its bore," fired at a high angle and meant to secure a vertical fall of the projectile, 1620s, originally mortar-piece (1550s), from French mortier "short cannon," in Old French, "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)). So called for its shape.ETD mortar (n.3).2

    mortarboard (n.)

    also mortar-board, 1823, "square board used by masons to hold mortar for plastering," from mortar (n.1) + board (n.1). By 1854 in reference to the academic cap, probably so called because it resembles the mason's board. Earlier it was called a mortar cap (1680s) or simply morter (c. 1600), from French mortier.ETD mortarboard (n.).2

    mortgage (v.)

    "to grant (immovable property) as security for money lent or contracted to be paid," late 15c., morgagen, from mortgage (n.). Related: Mortgaged; mortgaging.ETD mortgage (v.).2

    mortgage (n.)

    late 14c., morgage, "a conveyance of property on condition as security for a loan or agreement," from Old French morgage (13c.), mort gaige, literally "dead pledge" (replaced in modern French by hypothèque), from mort "dead" (see mortal (adj.)) + gage "pledge" (see wage (n.)).ETD mortgage (n.).2

    So called because the deal dies either when the debt is paid or when payment fails. Old French mort is from Vulgar Latin *mortus "dead," from Latin mortuus, past participle of mori "to die" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death). The -t- was restored in Modern English based on Latin.ETD mortgage (n.).3

    mortgagee (n.)

    "one to whom property is mortgaged, one who lends money on mortgage," 1580s, from mortgage (v.) + -ee.ETD mortgagee (n.).2

    mortgagor (n.)

    "one who grants a property as security for debt," 1580s, agent noun in Latin form from mortgage (v.). Native form mortgager is attested from 1630s. Barbarous mortgageor seems to be limited to legal writing.ETD mortgagor (n.).2

    mortician (n.)

    1895, American English, coined from mortuary + -ician, as in physician.ETD mortician (n.).2

    mortification (n.)

    late 14c., mortificacioun, "mortifying of the flesh, act of subduing the passions and appetites, suppression of bodily desires," from Late Latin mortificationem (nominative mortificatio) "a killing, putting to death," from past-participle stem of mortificare (see mortify). Meaning "death of one part of the body while the rest is still alive" is from early 15c. Sense of "feeling of humiliation" is recorded by 1640s.ETD mortification (n.).2

    mortified (adj.)

    "deeply humiliated," 1717, past-participle adjective from mortify. Earlier it meant "dead to sin or the world" (early 15c.); "gangrenous" (late 14c.).ETD mortified (adj.).2

    mortify (v.)

    late 14c., mortifien, "to kill, destroy the life of," from Old French mortefiier "destroy, overwhelm, punish," from Late Latin mortificare "cause death, kill, put to death," literally "make dead," from mortificus "producing death," from Latin mors (genitive mortis) "death" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death) + combining form of facere "to make, to do" (from PIE root *dhe- "to set, put").ETD mortify (v.).2

    Religious sense of "subdue the flesh by abstinence and discipline" is attested from early 15c. Sense of "humiliate, chagrin, vex" is recorded by 1690s (compare mortification). Related: Mortified; mortifying.ETD mortify (v.).3


    masc. proper name and surname, from Mortemer, name of a place in Normandy.ETD Mortimer.2

    mortise (n.)

    late 14c., morteise, "hole in which something is fitted" (originally of the hole in which Christ's cross was inserted); mid-15c. in the carpentry sense "hollow or groove cut in a piece of wood into which a corresponding projection (called a tenon) is fitted to form a joint;" from Old French mortaise (13c.), which is of uncertain origin. Possibly from Arabic murtazz "fastened," past participle of razza "cut a mortise in." Compare Spanish mortaja.ETD mortise (n.).2

    mortise (v.)

    mid-15c., "cut or make a mortise in," from mortise (n.). From 1540s as "join by tenon and mortise." Related: Mortised; mortising.ETD mortise (v.).2

    mortmain (n.)

    "inalienable ownership," mid-15c., from Anglo-French morte mayn (mid-14c.), Old French mortemain, literally "dead hand," from Medieval Latin mortua manus; for first element see mortal (adj.); second is from PIE root *man- (2) "hand." Probably a metaphorical expression on the notion of dead hands as those that cannot alienate.ETD mortmain (n.).2


    surname, from the many Mortons on the map of England, literally "moor or marsh settlement." Morton's Fork (1759) is in reference to John Morton (c. 1420-1500), archbishop of Canterbury, who levied forced loans under Henry VII by arguing the obviously rich could afford to pay and those who were not were living frugally and thus had savings and could pay, too.ETD Morton.2

    mortuary (n.)

    late 14c., mortuarie, "customary gift due to the minister of a parish on the death of a parishioner," from Anglo-French mortuarie (early 14c.), from Medieval Latin mortuarium, noun use of neuter of Late Latin adjective mortuarius "pertaining to the dead," from Latin mortuus, past participle of mori "to die" (from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm," also "to die" and forming words referring to death and to beings subject to death).ETD mortuary (n.).2

    From mid-15c. as "a funeral service." Meaning "place where bodies of the dead are kept temporarily" is recorded by 1865, a euphemism for earlier deadhouse.ETD mortuary (n.).3

    mortuary (adj.)

    1510s, "of or pertaining to the burial of the dead," from Late Latin mortuarius "of the dead," from Latin mortuus "dead" (see mortuary (n.)).ETD mortuary (adj.).2

    Morus (n.)

    genus of mulberry trees, from Latin morus "mulberry tree."ETD Morus (n.).2

    Mosaic (adj.)

    "pertaining to Moses," 1660s (earlier Mosaical, 1560s), from Modern Latin Mosaicus, from Late Latin Moses (see Moses).ETD Mosaic (adj.).2

    mosaic (n.)

    c. 1400, "process of making patterns of inlaid work in hard materials," from Old French mosaicq "mosaic work," from Italian mosaico, from Medieval Latin musaicum "mosaic work, work of the Muses," noun use of neuter of musaicus "of the Muses," from Latin Musa (see Muse). Medieval mosaics often were dedicated to the Muses.ETD mosaic (n.).2

    The word was formed in Medieval Latin as though from Greek, but the (late) Greek word for "mosaic work" was mouseion (and Klein says this sense in Greek was borrowed from Latin). Meaning "a piece of mosaic work" is from 1690s. Figurative meaning "anything resembling a mosaic work in composition" is by 1640s. As an adjective in English, "made of small pieces inlaid to form a pattern," from 1580s. Related: Mosaicist.ETD mosaic (n.).3

    mosasaurus (n.)

    carnivorous marine reptile of the Cretaceous period, 1830, from Latin Mosa "the river Meuse" (Dutch Maas) + -saurus. the first fossils of the ancient reptile were discovered 1760s in a chalk quarry near Maastricht, on the Meuse.ETD mosasaurus (n.).2


    Russian capital, named for the Moskva River, the name of which is of unknown origin. Moscow mule vodka cocktail is attested from 1950.ETD Moscow.2

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