British Library Cataloguing Data
The concise Oxford dictionary of current English.--8th ed.
1. English language--Dictionaries
I. Allen, R. E. (Robert Edward), 1944-423
ISBN 0-19-861243-5 thumb index
ISBN 0-19-861200-1 plain
MA abbr. 1 Master of Arts. 2 US Massachusetts (in official postal
ma n. colloq. mother. [abbr. of MAMMA(1)]
ma'am n. madam (used esp. in addressing royalty). [contr.]
Mac n. colloq. 1 a Scotsman. 2 US man (esp. as a form of
address). [Mac- as a patronymic prefix in many Scottish and
mac n. (also mack) Brit. colloq. mackintosh. [abbr.]
macabre adj. grim, gruesome. [ME f. OF macabr‚ perh. f. Macab‚ a
Maccabee, with ref. to a miracle play showing the slaughter of
macadam n. 1 material for road-making with successive layers of
compacted broken stone. 2 = TARMACADAM. ЬЬmacadamize v.tr.
(also -ise). [J. L. McAdam, Brit. surveyor d. 1836, who
advocated using this material]
macadamia n. any Australian evergreen tree of the genus Macadamia, esp.
M. ternifolia, bearing edible nutlike seeds. [J. Macadam,
Austral. chemist d. 1865]
macaque n. any monkey of the genus Macaca, including the rhesus monkey
and Barbary ape, having prominent cheek pouches and usu. a long
tail. [F f. Port. macaco f. Fiot makaku some monkeys f. kaku
macaroni n. 1 a tubular variety of pasta. 2 (pl. macaronies) hist. an
18th-c. British dandy affecting Continental fashions. [It.
maccaroni f. late Gk makaria food made from barley]
macaronic n. & adj. --n. (in pl.) burlesque verses containing Latin (or
other foreign) words and vernacular words with Latin etc.
terminations. --adj. (of verse) of this kind. [mod.L
macaronicus f. obs. It. macaronico, joc. formed as MACARONI]
macaroon n. a small light cake or biscuit made with white of egg, sugar,
and ground almonds or coconut. [F macaron f. It. (as MACARONI)]
Macassar n. (in full Macassar oil) a kind of oil formerly used as a
dressing for the hair. [Macassar, now in Indonesia, from where
its ingredients were said to come]
macaw n. any long-tailed brightly coloured parrot of the genus Ara or
Anodorhynchus, native to S. and Central America. [Port. macao,
of unkn. orig.]
Macc. abbr. Maccabees (Apocrypha).
Maccabees n.pl. (in full Books of the Maccabees) four books of Jewish
history and theology, of which the first and second are in the
Apocrypha. ЬЬMaccabean adj. [the name of a Jewish family that
led a revolt c.170 BC under Judas Maccabaeus]
n. (esp. in the US) the policy of hunting out suspected or
known Communists and removing them esp. from government
departments. [J. R. McCarthy, US senator d. 1957]
McCoy n. colloq. Ьthe (or the real) McCoy the real thing; the
genuine article. [19th c.: orig. uncert.]
mace(1) n. 1 a staff of office, esp. the symbol of the Speaker's
authority in the House of Commons. 2 hist. a heavy club usu.
having a metal head and spikes. 3 a stick used in the game of
bagatelle. 4 = mace-bearer. Ьmace-bearer an official who
carries a mace on ceremonial occasions. [ME f. OF mace, masse
f. Rmc mattea (unrecorded) club]
mace(2) n. the dried outer covering of the nutmeg, used as a spice.
[ME macis (taken as pl.) f. OF macis f. L macir a red spicy
mac‚doine n. mixed vegetables or fruit, esp. cut up small or in jelly.
[F, = Macedonia, with ref. to the mixture of peoples there]
macer n. a mace-bearer, esp. Sc. an official keeping order in a
lawcourt. [ME f. OF massier f. masse: see MACE(1)]
macerate v. 1 tr. & intr. make or become soft by soaking. 2 intr. waste
away by fasting. ЬЬmaceration n. macerator n. [L macerare
Mach n. (in full Mach number) the ratio of the speed of a body to the
speed of sound in the surrounding medium. ЬMach one (or two
etc.) the speed (or twice the speed) of sound. [E. Mach,
Austrian physicist d. 1916]
machete n. (also matchet) a broad heavy knife used in Central America
and the W. Indies as an implement and weapon. [Sp. f. macho
hammer f. LL marcus]
adj. elaborately cunning; scheming, unscrupulous.
ЬЬmachiavellianism n. [N. dei Machiavelli, Florentine statesman
and political writer d. 1527, who advocated resort to morally
questionable methods in the interests of the State]
v.tr. (usu. as machicolated adj.) furnish (a parapet etc.) with
openings between supporting corbels for dropping stones etc. on
attackers. ЬЬmachicolation n. [OF machicoler, ult. f. Prov.
machacol f. macar crush + col neck]
adj. capable of being cut by machine tools. ЬЬmachinability n.
machinate v.intr. lay plots; intrigue. ЬЬmachination n. machinator n.
[L machinari contrive (as MACHINE)]
machine n. & v. --n. 1 an apparatus using or applying mechanical
power, having several parts each with a definite function and
together performing certain kinds of work. 2 a particular kind
of machine, esp. a vehicle, a piece of electrical or electronic
apparatus, etc. 3 an instrument that transmits a force or
directs its application. 4 the controlling system of an
organization etc. (the party machine). 5 a person who acts
mechanically and with apparent lack of emotion. --v.tr. make or
operate on with a machine (esp. in sewing or printing).
Ьmachine code (or language) a computer language that a
particular computer can respond to directly. machine-readable
in a form that a computer can process. machine tool a
mechanically operated tool for working on metal, wood, or
plastics. machine-tooled 1 shaped by a machine tool. 2 (of
artistic presentation etc.) precise, slick, esp. excessively so.
[F f. L machina f. Gk makhana Doric form of mekhane f. mekhos
n. & v. --n. an automatic gun giving continuous fire. --v.tr.
(-gunned, -gunning) shoot at with a machine-gun.
machinery n. (pl. -ies) 1 machines collectively. 2 the components of a
machine; a mechanism. 3 (foll. by of) an organized system. 4
(foll. by for) the means devised or available (the machinery for
machinist n. 1 a person who operates a machine, esp. a sewing-machine or
a machine tool. 2 a person who makes machinery.
machismo n. exaggeratedly assertive manliness; a show of masculinity.
[Sp. f. macho MALE f. L masculus]
Machmeter n. an instrument indicating air speed in the form of a Mach
macho adj. & n. --adj. showily manly or virile. --n. (pl. -os) 1 a
macho man. 2 = MACHISMO. [MACHISMO]
n. power politics. [G]
macintosh var. of MACKINTOSH.
mack var. of MAC.
mackerel n. (pl. same or mackerels) a N. Atlantic marine fish, Scomber
scombrus, with a greenish-blue body, used for food. Ьmackerel
shark a porbeagle. mackerel sky a sky dappled with rows of
small white fleecy clouds, like the pattern on a mackerel's
back. [ME f. AF makerel, OF maquerel]
n. (also macintosh) 1 Brit. a waterproof coat or cloak. 2
cloth waterproofed with rubber. [C. Macintosh, Sc. inventor d.
1843, who orig. patented the cloth]
mackle n. a blurred impression in printing. [F macule f. L macula
blemish: see MACULA]
macle n. 1 a twin crystal. 2 a dark spot in a mineral. [F f. L (as
n.pl. (also M'Naghten rules) Brit. rules governing the
decision as to the criminal responsibility of an insane person.
[McNaughten or McNaughtan, name of a 19th-c. accused person]
macram‚ n. 1 the art of knotting cord or string in patterns to make
decorative articles. 2 articles made in this way. [Turk.
makrama bedspread f. Arab. mikrama]
macro n. (also macro-instruction) Computing a series of abbreviated
instructions expanded automatically when required.
macro- comb. form 1 long. 2 large, large-scale. [Gk makro- f. makros
adj. & n. --adj. relating to or following a diet intended to
prolong life, comprising pure vegetable foods, brown rice, etc.
--n. (in pl.; treated as sing.) the use or theory of such a
n. an evergreen tree, Cupressus macrocarpa, often cultivated
for hedges or wind-breaks. [mod.L f. Gk MACRO- + karpos fruit]
adj. (also macrocephalous) having a long or large head.
macrocosm n. 1 the universe. 2 the whole of a complex structure.
ЬЬmacrocosmic adj. macrocosmically adv.
n. the study of large-scale or general economic factors, e.g.
national productivity. ЬЬmacroeconomic adj.
n. Chem. a molecule containing a very large number of atoms.
macron n. a written or printed mark over a long or stressed vowel.
[Gk makron neut. of makros large]
n. a large phagocytic white blood cell usu. occurring at points
n. photography producing photographs larger than life.
macropod n. any plant-eating mammal of the family Macropodidae native to
Australia and New Guinea, including kangaroos and wallabies.
[MACRO- + Gk pous podos foot]
adj. 1 visible to the naked eye. 2 regarded in terms of large
units. ЬЬmacroscopically adv.
macula n. (pl. maculae) 1 a dark spot, esp. a permanent one, in the
skin. 2 (in full macula lutea) the region of greatest visual
acuity in the retina. ЬЬmacular adj. maculation n. [L, =
mad adj. & v. --adj. (madder, maddest) 1 insane; having a
disordered mind. 2 (of a person, conduct, or an idea) wildly
foolish. 3 (often foll. by about, on) wildly excited or
infatuated (mad about football; is chess-mad). 4 colloq. angry.
5 (of an animal) rabid. 6 wildly light-hearted. --v. (madded,
madding) 1 tr. US make angry. 2 intr. archaic be mad; act
madly (the madding crowd). Ьlike mad colloq. with great
energy, intensity, or enthusiasm. mad keen colloq. extremely
eager. ЬЬmadness n. [OE gem‘ded part. form f. gemad mad]
madam n. 1 a polite or respectful form of address or mode of
reference to a woman. 2 Brit. colloq. a conceited or
precocious girl or young woman. 3 a woman brothel-keeper. [ME
f. OF ma dame my lady]
Madame n. 1 (pl. Mesdames) a title or form of address used of or to a
French-speaking woman, corresponding to Mrs or madam. 2
(madame) = MADAM 1. [F (as MADAM)]
madcap adj. & n. --adj. 1 wildly impulsive. 2 undertaken without
forethought. --n. a wildly impulsive person.
madden v. 1 tr. & intr. make or become mad. 2 tr. irritate intensely.
ЬЬmaddening adj. maddeningly adv.
madder n. 1 a herbaceous plant, Rubia tinctorum, with yellowish
flowers. 2 a red dye obtained from the root of the madder, or
its synthetic substitute. [OE m‘dere]
made 1 past and past part. of MAKE. 2 adj. (usu. in comb.) a (of a
person or thing) built or formed (well-made; strongly-made). b
successful (a self-made man). Ьhave it made colloq. be sure of
success. made for ideally suited to. made of consisting of.
made of money colloq. very rich.
Madeira n. 1 a fortified white wine from the island of Madeira off the
coast of N. Africa. 2 (in full Madeira cake) a kind of rich
madeleine n. a small fancy sponge cake. [F]
n. (pl. Mesdemoiselles) 1 a title or form of address used of
or to an unmarried French-speaking woman, corresponding to Miss
or madam. 2 (mademoiselle) a a young Frenchwoman. b a French
governess. [F f. ma my + demoiselle DAMSEL]
madhouse n. 1 archaic or colloq. a mental home or hospital. 2 colloq. a
scene of extreme confusion or uproar.
madly adv. 1 in a mad manner. 2 colloq. a passionately. b
madman n. (pl. -men) a man who is mad.
Madonna n. Eccl. 1 (prec. by the) a name for the Virgin Mary. 2 (usu.
madonna) a picture or statue of the Madonna. Ьmadonna lily the
white Lilium candidum, as shown in many pictures of the Madonna.
[It. f. ma = mia my + donna lady f. L domina]
madras n. a strong cotton fabric with coloured or white stripes,
checks, etc. [Madras in India]
madrepore n. 1 any perforated coral of the genus Madrepora. 2 the animal
producing this. ЬЬmadreporic adj. [F madr‚pore or mod.L
madrepora f. It. madrepora f. madre mother + poro PORE(1)]
madrigal n. 1 a usu. 16th-c. or 17th-c. part-song for several voices,
usu. arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental
accompaniment. 2 a short love poem. ЬЬmadrigalian adj.
madrigalesque adj. madrigalist n. [It. madrigale f. med.L
matricalis mother (church), formed as MATRIX]
madwoman n. (pl. -women) a woman who is mad.
Maecenas n. a generous patron of literature or art. [Gaius Maecenas,
Roman statesman d. 8 BC, the patron of Horace and Virgil]
maelstrom n. 1 a great whirlpool. 2 a state of confusion. [early mod.
Du. f. malen grind, whirl + stroom STREAM]
maenad n. 1 a bacchante. 2 a frenzied woman. ЬЬmaenadic adj. [L
Maenas Maenad- f. Gk Mainas -ados f. mainomai rave]
maestoso adj., adv., & n. Mus. --adj. & adv. to be performed
majestically. --n. (pl. -os) a piece of music to be performed
in this way. [It.]
maestro n. (pl. maestri or -os) (often as a respectful form of
address) 1 a distinguished musician, esp. a conductor or
performer. 2 a great performer in any sphere, esp. artistic.
[It., = master]
Mae West n. an inflatable life-jacket. [the name of an American film
actress d. 1980, noted for her large bust]
Mafia n. 1 an organized international body of criminals, orig. in
Sicily, now also in Italy and the US. 2 (mafia) a group
regarded as exerting a hidden sinister influence. [It. dial.
(Sicilian), = bragging]
Mafioso n. (pl. Mafiosi) a member of the Mafia. [It. (as MAFIA)]
mag n. colloq. a magazine (periodical). [abbr.]
mag. abbr. 1 magnesium. 2 magneto. 3 magnetic.
magazine n. 1 a periodical publication containing articles, stories,
etc., usu. with photographs, illustrations, etc. 2 a chamber
for holding a supply of cartridges to be fed automatically to
the breech of a gun. 3 a similar device feeding a camera, slide
projector, etc. 4 a store for arms, ammunition, and provisions
for use in war. 5 a store for explosives. [F magasin f. It.
magazzino f. Arab. makazin pl. of makzan storehouse f. kazana
magdalen n. 1 a reformed prostitute. 2 a home for reformed prostitutes.
[Mary Magdalene of Magdala in Galilee (Luke 8:2), identified
(prob. wrongly) with the sinner of Luke 7:37: f. eccl.L
Magdalena f. Gk Magdalene]
adj. & n. Archaeol. --adj. of the latest palaeolithic period
in Europe, characterized by horn and bone tools. --n. the
culture of this period. [F Magdal‚nien of La Madeleine,
Dordogne, France, where remains were found]
mage n. archaic 1 a magician. 2 a wise and learned person. [ME,
Anglicized f. MAGUS]
n. each of two galaxies visible in the southern sky. [F.
Magellan, Port. explorer d. 1521]
magenta n. & adj. --n. 1 a brilliant mauvish-crimson shade. 2 an
aniline dye of this colour; fuchsine. --adj. of or coloured
with magenta. [Magenta in N. Italy, site of a battle (1859)
fought shortly before the dye was discovered]
maggot n. 1 a larva, esp. of the cheese-fly or bluebottle. 2 a
whimsical fancy. ЬЬmaggoty adj. [ME perh. alt. f. maddock,
earlier mathek f. ON mathkr: cf. MAWKISH]
magi pl. of MAGUS.
magian adj. & n. --adj. of the magi or Magi. --n. 1 a magus or
Magus. 2 a magician. ЬЬmagianism n. [L magus: see MAGUS]
magic n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a the supposed art of influencing the
course of events by the occult control of nature or of the
spirits. b witchcraft. 2 conjuring tricks. 3 an inexplicable
or remarkable influence producing surprising results. 4 an
enchanting quality or phenomenon. --adj. 1 of or resulting
from magic. 2 producing surprising results. 3 colloq.
wonderful, exciting. --v.tr. (magicked, magicking) change or
create by magic, or apparently so. Ьlike magic very rapidly.
magic away cause to disappear as if by magic. magic carpet a
mythical carpet able to transport a person on it to any desired
place. magic eye 1 a photoelectric device used in equipment for
detection, measurement, etc. 2 a small cathode-ray tube used to
indicate the correct tuning of a radio receiver. magic lantern
a simple form of image-projector using slides. magic mushroom a
mushroom producing psilocybin. magic square a square divided
into smaller squares each containing a number such that the sums
of all vertical, horizontal, or diagonal rows are equal. [ME f.
OF magique f. L magicus adj., LL magica n., f. Gk magikos (as
magical adj. 1 of or relating to magic. 2 resembling magic; produced
as if by magic. 3 wonderful, enchanting. ЬЬmagically adv.
magician n. 1 a person skilled in or practising magic. 2 a conjuror. 3
a person with exceptional skill. [ME f. OF magicien f. LL
magica (as MAGIC)]
magilp var. of MEGILP.
n. 1 a line of fortifications along the NE border of France
begun in 1929, overrun in 1940. 2 a line of defence on which
one relies blindly. [A. Maginot, Fr. minister of war d. 1932]
adj. 1 imperious. 2 invested with authority. 3 of or
conducted by a magistrate. 4 (of a work, opinion, etc.) highly
authoritative. ЬЬmagisterially adv. [med.L magisterialis f. LL
magisterius f. L magister MASTER]
n. RC Ch. the official teaching of a bishop or pope. [L, =
the office of a master (as MAGISTERIAL)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the office or authority of a magistrate. 2
magistral adj. 1 of a master or masters. 2 Pharm. (of a remedy etc.)
devised and made up for a particular case (cf. OFFICINAL). [F
magistral or L magistralis f. magister MASTER]
n. 1 a civil officer administering the law. 2 an official
conducting a court for minor cases and preliminary hearings
(magistrates' court). ЬЬmagistrateship n. magistrature n. [ME
f. L magistratus (as MAGISTRAL)]
n. & adj. --n. a N. European mesolithic culture, characterized
by bone and stone implements. --adj. of or relating to this
culture. [Maglemose in Denmark, where articles from it were
maglev n. (usu. attrib.) magnetic levitation, a system in which trains
glide above the track in a magnetic field. [abbr.]
magma n. (pl. magmata or magmas) 1 fluid or semifluid material from
which igneous rock is formed by cooling. 2 a crude pasty
mixture of mineral or organic matter. ЬЬmagmatic adj. [ME, = a
solid residue f. L f. Gk magma -atos f. the root of masso knead]
n. (also Magna Charta) 1 a charter of liberty and political
rights obtained from King John of England in 1215. 2 any
similar document of rights. [med.L, = great charter]
adj. nobly generous; not petty in feelings or conduct.
ЬЬmagnanimity n. magnanimously adv. [L magnanimus f. magnus
great + animus soul]
magnate n. a wealthy and influential person, esp. in business (shipping
magnate; financial magnate). [ME f. LL magnas -atis f. L magnus
magnesia n. 1 Chem. magnesium oxide. 2 (in general use) hydrated
magnesium carbonate, a white powder used as an antacid and
laxative. ЬЬmagnesian adj. [ME f. med.L f. Gk Magnesia
(lithos) (stone) of Magnesia in Asia Minor, orig. referring to
magnesite n. a white or grey mineral form of magnesium carbonate.
magnesium n. Chem. a silvery metallic element occurring naturally in
magnesite and dolomite, used for making light alloys and
important as an essential element in living organisms. °Symb.:
Mg. Ьmagnesium flare (or light) a blinding white light produced
by burning magnesium wire.
magnet n. 1 a piece of iron, steel, alloy, ore, etc., usu. in the form
of a bar or horseshoe, having properties of attracting or
repelling iron. 2 a lodestone. 3 a person or thing that
attracts. [ME f. L magnes magnetis f. Gk magnes = Magnes -etos
(lithos) (stone) of Magnesia: cf. MAGNESIA]
magnetic adj. 1 a having the properties of a magnet. b producing,
produced by, or acting by magnetism. 2 capable of being
attracted by or acquiring the properties of a magnet. 3 very
attractive or alluring (a magnetic personality). Ьmagnetic
compass = COMPASS 1. magnetic disk see DISC. magnetic equator
an imaginary line, near the equator, on which a magnetic needle
has no dip. magnetic field a region of variable force around
magnets, magnetic materials, or current-carrying conductors.
magnetic inclination = DIP n. 8. magnetic mine a submarine
mine detonated by the proximity of a magnetized body such as
that of a ship. magnetic moment the property of a magnet that
interacts with an applied field to give a mechanical moment.
magnetic needle a piece of magnetized steel used as an indicator
on the dial of a compass and in magnetic and electrical
apparatus, esp. in telegraphy. magnetic north the point
indicated by the north end of a compass needle. magnetic pole 1
each of the points near the extremities of the axis of rotation
of the earth or another body where a magnetic needle dips
vertically. 2 each of the regions of an artificial or natural
magnet, from which the magnetic forces appear to originate.
magnetic storm a disturbance of the earth's magnetic field
caused by charged particles from the sun etc. magnetic tape a
tape coated with magnetic material for recording sound or
pictures or for the storage of information. ЬЬmagnetically adv.
[LL magneticus (as MAGNET)]
magnetism n. 1 a magnetic phenomena and their study. b the property of
producing these phenomena. 2 attraction; personal charm.
[mod.L magnetismus (as MAGNET)]
magnetite n. magnetic iron oxide. [G Magnetit (as MAGNET)]
magnetize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 give magnetic properties to. 2 make into a
magnet. 3 attract as or like a magnet. ЬЬmagnetizable adj.
magnetization n. magnetizer n.
magneto n. (pl. -os) an electric generator using permanent magnets and
producing high voltage, esp. for the ignition of an
internal-combustion engine. [abbr. of MAGNETO-ELECTRIC]
magneto- comb. form indicating a magnet or magnetism. [Gk magnes: see
adj. (of an electric generator) using permanent magnets.
n. an instrument for recording measurements of magnetic
n. an instrument measuring magnetic forces, esp. the earth's
magnetism. ЬЬmagnetometry n.
adj. (of a force) being the sum of the magnetizing forces along
magneton n. a unit of magnetic moment in atomic and nuclear physics. [F
magn‚ton (as MAGNETIC)]
n. the region surrounding a planet, star, etc. in which its
magnetic field is effective.
magnetron n. an electron tube for amplifying or generating microwaves,
with the flow of electrons controlled by an external magnetic
field. [MAGNET + -TRON]
n. 1 a song of praise. 2 (Magnificat) the hymn of the Virgin
Mary (Luke 1:46-55) used as a canticle. [f. the opening words
magnificat anima mea Dominum my soul magnifies the Lord]
n. 1 the act or an instance of magnifying; the process of being
magnified. 2 the amount or degree of magnification. 3 the
apparent enlargement of an object by a lens.
adj. 1 splendid, stately. 2 sumptuously constructed or
adorned. 3 splendidly lavish. 4 colloq. fine, excellent.
ЬЬmagnificence n. magnificently adv. [F magnificent or L
magnificus f. magnus great]
magnifico n. (pl. -oes) a magnate or grandee. [It., = MAGNIFICENT:
orig. with ref. to Venice]
magnify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 make (a thing) appear larger than it is,
as with a lens. 2 exaggerate. 3 intensify. 4 archaic extol,
glorify. Ьmagnifying glass a lens used to produce an enlarged
image. ЬЬmagnifiable adj. magnifier n. [ME f. OF magnifier or
L magnificare (as MAGNIFICENT)]
adj. 1 grand or grandiose in speech. 2 boastful.
ЬЬmagniloquence n. magniloquently adv. [L magniloquus f.
magnus great + -loquus -speaking]
magnitude n. 1 largeness. 2 size. 3 importance. 4 a the degree of
brightness of a star (see also absolute magnitude, apparent
magnitude). b a class of stars arranged according to this (of
the third magnitude). Ьof the first magnitude very important.
[ME f. L magnitudo f. magnus great]
magnolia n. 1 any tree or shrub of the genus Magnolia, cultivated for
its dark-green foliage and large waxlike flowers in spring. 2 a
pale creamy-pink colour. [mod.L f. P. Magnol, Fr. botanist d.
magnox n. any of various magnesium-based alloys used to enclose
uranium fuel elements in a nuclear reactor. [magnesium no
magnum n. (pl. magnums) 1 a wine bottle of about twice the standard
size. 2 a a cartridge or shell that is especially powerful or
large. b (often attrib.) a cartridge or gun adapted so as to be
more powerful than its calibre suggests. [L, neut. of magnus
n. 1 a great and usu. large work of art, literature, etc. 2
the most important work of an artist, writer, etc. [L, = great
work: see OPUS]
magpie n. 1 a European and American crow, Pica pica, with a long
pointed tail and black and white plumage. 2 any of various
birds with plumage like a magpie, esp. Gymnorhina tibicen of
Australia. 3 an idle chatterer. 4 a person who collects things
indiscriminately. 5 a the division of a circular target next to
the outer one. b a rifle shot which strikes this. [Mag, abbr.
of Margaret + PIE(2)]
maguey n. an agave plant, esp. one yielding pulque. [Sp. f. Haitian]
magus n. (pl. magi) 1 a member of a priestly caste of ancient
Persia. 2 a sorcerer. 3 (the (three) Magi) the 'wise men' from
the East who brought gifts to the infant Christ (Matt. 2:1).
[ME f. L f. Gk magos f. OPers. magus]
Magyar n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a Ural-Altaic people now
predominant in Hungary. 2 the language of this people. --adj.
of or relating to this people or language. [native name]
maharaja n. (also maharajah) hist. a title of some Indian princes.
[Hindi maharaja f. maha great + RAJA]
maharanee n. (also maharani) hist. a maharaja's wife or widow. [Hindi
maharani f. maha great + RANEE]
maharishi n. a great Hindu sage or spiritual leader. [Hindi f. maha
great + RISHI]
mahatma n. 1 a (in India etc.) a person regarded with reverence. b a
sage. 2 each of a class of persons in India and Tibet supposed
by some to have preternatural powers. [Skr. mahatman f. maha
great + atman soul]
Mahayana n. a school of Buddhism practised in China, Japan, and Tibet.
[Skr. f. maha great + yana vehicle]
Mahdi n. (pl. Mahdis) 1 a spiritual and temporal messiah expected by
Muslims. 2 esp. hist. a leader claiming to be this Messiah.
ЬЬMahdism n. Mahdist n. [Arab. mahdiy he who is guided right,
past part. of hada guide]
mah-jong n. (also mah-jongg) a Chinese game for four resembling rummy
and played with 136 or 144 pieces called tiles. [Chin. dial.
ma-tsiang, lit. sparrows]
mahlstick var. of MAULSTICK.
mahogany n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a reddish-brown wood used for furniture. b
the colour of this. 2 any tropical tree of the genus Swietenia,
esp. S. mahagoni, yielding this wood. [17th c.: orig. unkn.]
mahonia n. any evergreen shrub of the genus Mahonia, with yellow
bell-shaped or globular flowers. [F mahonne, Sp. mahona, It.
maona, Turk. mawuna]
mahout n. (in India etc.) an elephant-driver or -keeper. [Hindi
mahaut f. Skr. mahamatra high official, lit. 'great in
Mahratta var. of MARATHA.
Mahratti var. of MARATHI.
mahseer n. either of two freshwater Indian fish, Barbus putitora or B.
tor, used as food. [Hindi mahasir]
maid n. 1 a female domestic servant. 2 archaic or poet. a girl or
young woman. Ьmaid of honour 1 an unmarried lady attending a
queen or princess. 2 a kind of small custard tart. 3 esp. US
a principal bridesmaid. ЬЬmaidish adj. [ME, abbr. of MAIDEN]
maidan n. Anglo-Ind. 1 an open space in or near a town. 2 a
parade-ground. [Urdu f. Arab. maydan]
maiden n. 1 a archaic or poet. a girl; a young unmarried woman. b
(attrib.) unmarried (maiden aunt). 2 Cricket = maiden over. 3
(attrib.) (of a female animal) unmated. 4 (often attrib.) a a
horse that has never won a race. b a race open only to such
horses. 5 (attrib.) being or involving the first attempt or
occurrence (maiden speech; maiden voyage). Ьmaiden name a
wife's surname before marriage. maiden over Cricket an over in
which no runs are scored off the bat. ЬЬmaidenhood n.
maidenish adj. maidenlike adj. maidenly adj. [OE m‘gden,
dimin. f. m‘geth f. Gmc]
n. (in full maidenhair fern) a fern of the genus Adiantum, esp.
A. capillus-veneris, with fine hairlike stalks and delicate
fronds. Ьmaidenhair tree = GINKGO.
n. 1 virginity. 2 the hymen.
n. a female domestic servant.
maieutic adj. (of the Socratic mode of enquiry) serving to bring a
person's latent ideas into clear consciousness. [Gk maieutikos
f. maieuomai act as a midwife f. maia midwife]
maigre adj. RC Ch. 1 (of a day) on which abstinence from meat is
ordered. 2 (of food) suitable for eating on maigre days. [F,
lit. lean: cf. MEAGRE]
mail(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a letters and parcels etc. conveyed by post. b
the postal system. c one complete delivery or collection of
mail. d one delivery of letters to one place, esp. to a
business on one occasion. 2 a vehicle carrying mail. 3 hist. a
bag of letters for conveyance by post. --v.tr. esp. US send (a
letter etc.) by post. Ьmail-boat a boat carrying mail. mail
carrier US a postman or postwoman. mail cart Brit. hist. 1 a
cart for carrying mail by road. 2 a light vehicle for carrying
children. mail coach a railway coach or hist. stagecoach used
for carrying mail. mail drop US a receptacle for mail. mailing
list a list of people to whom advertising matter, information,
etc., is to be posted. mail order an order for goods sent by
post. mail-order firm a firm doing business by post. mail
train a train carrying mail. [ME f. OF male wallet f. WG]
mail(2) n. & v. --n. 1 armour made of rings, chains, or plates, joined
together flexibly. 2 the protective shell, scales, etc., of an
animal. --v.tr. clothe with or as if with mail. Ьcoat of mail
a jacket covered with mail or composed of mail. mailed fist
physical force. ЬЬmailed adj. [ME f. OF maille f. L macula
mailable adj. acceptable for conveyance by post.
mailbag n. a large sack or bag for carrying mail.
mailbox n. US a letter-box.
maillot n. 1 tights for dancing, gymnastics, etc. 2 a woman's
one-piece bathing-suit. 3 a jersey. [F]
mailman n. (pl. -men) US a postman.
maim v.tr. 1 cripple, disable, mutilate. 2 harm, impair
(emotionally maimed by neglect). [ME maime etc. f. OF
mahaignier etc., of unkn. orig.]
main(1) adj. & n. --adj. 1 chief in size, importance, extent, etc.;
principal (the main part; the main point). 2 exerted to the
full (by main force). --n. 1 a principal channel, duct, etc.,
for water, sewage, etc. (water main). 2 (usu. in pl.; prec. by
the) a the central distribution network for electricity, gas,
water, etc. b a domestic electricity supply as distinct from
batteries. 3 archaic or poet. a the ocean or oceans (the
Spanish Main). b the mainland. Ьin the main for the most part.
main brace Naut. the brace attached to the main yard. the main
chance one's own interests. main course 1 the chief course of a
meal. 2 Naut. the mainsail. main deck Naut. 1 the deck below
the spar-deck in a man-of-war. 2 the upper deck between the
poop and the forecastle in a merchantman. main line 1 a chief
railway line. 2 sl. a principal vein, esp. as a site for a drug
injection (cf. MAINLINE). 3 US a chief road or street. main
stem US colloq. = main street. main street the principal street
of a town. Main Street US materialistic philosophy (after
Sinclair Lewis's novel, 1920). main yard Naut. the yard on
which the mainsail is extended. with might and main with all
one's force. [ME, partly f. ON megenn, megn (adj.), partly f.
OE m‘gen- f. Gmc: (n.) orig. = physical force]
main(2) n. 1 (in the game of hazard) a number (5, 6, 7, 8, or 9) called
by a player before dice are thrown. 2 a match between
fighting-cocks. [16th c.: prob. orig. main chance: see
mainframe n. 1 the central processing unit and primary memory of a
computer. 2 (often attrib.) a large computer system.
mainland n. 1 a large continuous extent of land, excluding neighbouring
islands etc. 2 (Mainland) the largest island in Orkney and in
Shetland. ЬЬmainlander n.
mainline v. sl. 1 intr. take drugs intravenously. 2 tr. inject (drugs)
intravenously. ЬЬmainliner n.
mainly adv. for the most part; chiefly.
mainmast n. Naut. the principal mast of a ship.
mainplane n. the principal supporting surface of an aircraft (cf.
mainsail n. Naut. 1 (in a square-rigged vessel) the lowest sail on the
mainmast. 2 (in a fore-and-aft rigged vessel) a sail set on the
after part of the mainmast.
n. 1 the principal spring of a mechanical watch, clock, etc. 2
a chief motive power; an incentive.
mainstay n. 1 a chief support (has been his mainstay since his trouble).
2 Naut. a stay from the maintop to the foot of the foremast.
n. 1 (often attrib.) the prevailing trend in opinion, fashion,
etc. 2 a type of jazz based on the 1930s swing style and
consisting esp. of solo improvisation on chord sequences. 3 the
principal current of a river.
maintain v.tr. 1 cause to continue; keep up, preserve (a state of
affairs, an activity, etc.) (maintained friendly relations). 2
(often foll. by in; often refl.) support (life, a condition,
etc.) by work, nourishment, expenditure, etc. (maintained him in
comfort; maintained themselves by fishing). 3 (often foll. by
that + clause) assert (an opinion, statement, etc.) as true
(maintained that she was the best; his story was true, he
maintained). 4 preserve or provide for the preservation of (a
building, machine, road, etc.) in good repair. 5 give aid to (a
cause, party, etc.). 6 provide means for (a garrison etc. to be
equipped). Ьmaintained school Brit. a school supported from
public funds. ЬЬmaintainable adj. maintainability n. [ME f.
OF maintenir ult. f. L manu tenere hold in the hand]
n. 1 a person or thing that maintains. 2 (also maintainor) Law
hist. a person guilty of maintenance (see MAINTENANCE 3).
n. 1 the process of maintaining or being maintained. 2 a the
provision of the means to support life, esp. by work etc. b
(also separate maintenance) a husband's or wife's provision for
a spouse after separation or divorce; alimony. 3 Law hist. the
offence of aiding a party in litigation without lawful cause.
[ME f. OF f. maintenir: see MAINTAIN]
maintop n. Naut. a platform above the head of the lower mainmast.
n. Naut. a mast above the head of the lower mainmast.
maiolica n. a white tin-glazed earthenware decorated with metallic
colours, orig. popular in the Mediterranean area during the
Renaissance (see also MAJOLICA). [It. f. former name of
n. (also maisonnette) 1 a part of a house, block of flats,
etc., forming separate living accommodation, usu. on two floors
and having a separate entrance. 2 a small house. [F
maisonnette dimin. of maison house]
n. 1 the manager, head steward, etc., of a hotel. 2 a head
waiter. [F, = master of (the) house]
maize n. 1 a cereal plant, Zea mays, native to N. America, yielding
large grains set in rows on a cob. 2 the cobs or grains of this
(see CORN(1)). [F ma‹s or Sp. maiz, of Carib orig.]
majesty n. (pl. -ies) 1 impressive stateliness, dignity, or authority,
esp. of bearing, language, the law, etc. 2 a royal power. b
(Majesty) part of several titles given to a sovereign or a
sovereign's wife or widow or used in addressing them (Your
Majesty; Her Majesty the Queen Mother). 3 a picture of God or
Christ enthroned within an aureole. ЬHer (or His) Majesty's
part of the title of several State institutions (Her Majesty's
Stationery Office). [ME f. OF majest‚ f. L majestas -tatis (as
Majlis n. Polit. the parliament of various N. African or Middle
Eastern countries, esp. Iran. [Pers., = assembly]
majolica n. (also maiolica) 1 a 19th-c. trade name for earthenware with
coloured decoration on an opaque white glaze. 2 = MAIOLICA.
[alt. f. MAIOLICA]
major adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 important, large, serious, significant
(a major road; a major war; the major consideration must be
their health). 2 (of an operation) serious or life-threatening.
3 Mus. a (of a scale) having intervals of a semitone between
the third and fourth, and seventh and eighth degrees. b (of an
interval) greater by a semitone than a minor interval (major
third). c (of a key) based on a major scale, tending to produce
a bright or joyful effect (D major). 4 of full age. 5 Brit.
(appended to a surname, esp. in public schools) the elder of two
brothers or the first to enter the school (Smith major). 6
Logic a (of a term) occurring in the predicate or conclusion of
a syllogism. b (of a premiss) containing a major term. --n. 1
Mil. a an army officer next below lieutenant-colonel and above
captain. b an officer in charge of a section of band
instruments (drum major; pipe major). 2 a person of full age.
3 US a a student's special subject or course. b a student
specializing in a specified subject (a philosophy major). 4
Logic a major term or premiss. --v.intr. (foll. by in) US study
or qualify in a subject (majored in theology). Ьmajor axis the
axis of a conic, passing through its foci. major-general an
officer next below a lieutenant-general. major league US a
league of major importance in baseball etc. major part (often
foll. by of) the majority. major piece Chess a rook or queen.
major planet Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, or Neptune. major prophet
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, or Daniel. major suit Bridge spades
or hearts. ЬЬmajorship n. [ME f. L, compar. of magnus great]
n. (pl. -os) 1 the chief official of an Italian or Spanish
princely household. 2 a house-steward; a butler. [orig.
mayordome f. Sp. mayordomo, It. maggiordomo f. med.L major
domus highest official of the household (as MAJOR, DOME)]
majorette n. = drum majorette. [abbr.]
majority n. (pl. -ies) 1 (usu. foll. by of) the greater number or part.
°Strictly used only with countable nouns, e.g. a majority of
people, and not with mass nouns, e.g. a majority of the work.
2 Polit. a the number by which the votes cast for one party,
candidate, etc. exceed those of the next in rank (won by a
majority of 151). b a party etc. receiving the greater number
of votes. 3 full legal age (attained his majority). 4 the rank
of major. Ьthe great majority 1 much the greater number. 2
euphem. the dead (has joined the great majority). in the
majority esp. Polit. belonging to or constituting a majority
party etc. majority rule the principle that the greater number
should exercise greater power. majority verdict a verdict given
by more than half of the jury, but not unanimous. [F majorit‚
f. med.L majoritas -tatis (as MAJOR)]
majuscule n. & adj. --n. Palaeog. 1 a large letter, whether capital or
uncial. 2 large lettering. --adj. of, written in, or
concerning majuscules. ЬЬmajuscular adj. [F f. L majuscula
(littera letter), dimin. of MAJOR]
make v. & n. --v. (past and past part. made) 1 tr. construct;
create; form from parts or other substances (made a table; made
it out of cardboard; made him a sweater). 2 tr. (foll. by to +
infin.) cause or compel (a person etc.) to do something (make
him repeat it; was made to confess). 3 tr. a cause to exist;
create; bring about (made a noise; made an enemy). b cause to
become or seem (made an exhibition of myself; made him angry).
c appoint; designate (made him a Cardinal). 4 tr. compose;
prepare; draw up (made her will; made a film about Japan). 5
tr. constitute; amount to (makes a difference; 2 and 2 make 4;
this makes the tenth time). 6 tr. a undertake or agree to (an
aim or purpose) (made a promise; make an effort). b execute or
perform (a bodily movement, a speech, etc.) (made a face; made a
bow). 7 tr. gain, acquire, procure (money, a profit, etc.)
(made њ20,000 on the deal). 8 tr. prepare (tea, coffee, a dish,
etc.) for consumption (made egg and chips). 9 tr. a arrange
bedclothes tidily on (a bed) ready for use. b arrange and light
materials for (a fire). 10 intr. a proceed (made towards the
river). b (foll. by to + infin.) begin an action (he made to
go). 11 tr. colloq. a arrive at (a place) or in time for (a
train etc.) (made the border before dark; made the six o'clock
train). b manage to attend; manage to attend on (a certain day)
or at (a certain time) (couldn't make the meeting last week; can
make any day except Friday). c achieve a place in (made the
first eleven; made the six o'clock news). d US achieve the rank
of (made colonel in three years). 12 tr. establish or enact (a
distinction, rule, law, etc.). 13 tr. consider to be; estimate
as (what do you make the time?; do you make that a 1 or a 7?).
14 tr. secure the success or advancement of (his mother made
him; it made my day). 15 tr. accomplish (a distance, speed,
score, etc.) (made 60 m.p.h. on the motorway). 16 tr. a become
by development or training (made a great leader). b serve as (a
log makes a useful seat). 17 tr. (usu. foll. by out) represent
as; cause to appear as (makes him out a liar). 18 tr. form in
the mind; feel (I make no judgement). 19 tr. (foll. by it +
compl.) a determine, establish, or choose (let's make it
Tuesday; made it my business to know). b bring to (a chosen
value etc.) (decided to make it a dozen). 20 tr. sl. have
sexual relations with. 21 tr. Cards a win (a trick). b play
(a card) to advantage. c win the number of tricks that fulfils
(a contract). d shuffle (a pack of cards) for dealing. 22 tr.
Cricket score (runs). 23 tr. Electr. complete or close (a
circuit) (opp. BREAK). 24 intr. (of the tide) begin to flow or
ebb. --n. 1 (esp. of a product) a type, origin, brand, etc. of
manufacture (different make of car; our own make). 2 a kind of
mental, moral, or physical structure or composition. 3 an act
of shuffling cards. 4 Electr. a the making of contact. b the
position in which this is made. Ьbe made for be ideally suited
to. be made of consist of (cake made of marzipan). have it
made colloq. be sure of success. made dish a dish prepared
from several separate foods. made man a man who has attained
success. made of money colloq. very rich. made road a
properly surfaced road of tarmac, concrete, etc. made to
measure (of a suit etc.) made to a specific customer's
measurements. made to order see ORDER. make after archaic
pursue. make against be unfavourable to. make as if (or
though) (foll. by to + infin. or conditional) act as if the
specified circumstances applied (made as if to leave; made as if
he would hit me; made as if I had not noticed). make away (or
off) depart hastily. make away with 1 get rid of; kill. 2
squander. make-believe (or -belief) 1 pretence. 2 pretended.
make believe pretend. make conversation talk politely. make a
day (or night etc.) of it devote a whole day (or night etc.) to
an activity. make do 1 manage with the limited or inadequate
means available. 2 (foll. by with) manage with (something) as
an inferior substitute. make an example of punish as a warning
to others. make a fool of see FOOL(1). make for 1 tend to
result in (happiness etc.). 2 proceed towards (a place). 3
assault; attack. 4 confirm (an opinion). make friends (often
foll. by with) become friendly. make fun of see FUN. make good
see GOOD. make a habit of see HABIT. make a hash of see
HASH(1). make hay see HAY(1). make head or tail of see HEAD.
make a House Polit. secure the presence of enough members for a
quorum or support in the House of Commons. make it colloq. 1
succeed in reaching, esp. in time. 2 be successful. 3 (usu.
foll. by with) sl. have sexual intercourse (with). make it up 1
be reconciled, esp. after a quarrel. 2 fill in a deficit. make
it up to remedy negligence, an injury, etc. to (a person). make
light of see LIGHT(2). make love see LOVE. make a meal of see
MEAL(1). make merry see MERRY. make money acquire wealth or an
income. make the most of see MOST. make much (or little or the
best) of 1 derive much (or little etc.) advantage from. 2 give
much (or little etc.) attention, importance, etc., to. make a
name for oneself see NAME. make no bones about see BONE. make
nothing of 1 do without hesitation. 2 treat as a trifle. 3 be
unable to understand, use, or deal with. make of 1 construct
from. 2 conclude to be the meaning or character of (can you
make anything of it?). make off = make away. make off with
carry away; steal. make oneself scarce see SCARCE. make or
break (or mar) cause the success or ruin of. make out 1 a
distinguish by sight or hearing. b decipher (handwriting etc.).
2 understand (can't make him out). 3 assert; pretend (made out
he liked it). 4 colloq. make progress; fare (how did you make
out?). 5 (usu. foll. by to, in favour of) draw up; write out
(made out a cheque to her). 6 prove or try to prove (how do you
make that out?). make over 1 transfer the possession of (a
thing) to a person. 2 refashion (a garment etc.). make a point
of see POINT. make sail Naut. 1 spread a sail or sails. 2
start a voyage. make shift see SHIFT. make so bold as to see
BOLD. make time 1 (usu. foll. by for or to + infin.) find an
occasion when time is available. 2 (usu. foll. by with) esp.
US sl. make sexual advances (to a person). make-up 1 cosmetics
for the face etc., either generally or to create an actor's
appearance or disguise. 2 the appearance of the face etc. when
cosmetics have been applied (his make-up was not convincing). 3
Printing the making up of a type. 4 Printing the type made up.
5 a person's character, temperament, etc. 6 the composition or
constitution (of a thing). make up 1 serve or act to overcome
(a deficiency). 2 complete (an amount, a party, etc.). 3
compensate. 4 be reconciled. 5 put together; compound; prepare
(made up the medicine). 6 sew (parts of a garment etc.)
together. 7 get (a sum of money, a company, etc.) together. 8
concoct (a story). 9 (of parts) compose (a whole). 10 a apply
cosmetics. b apply cosmetics to. 11 settle (a dispute). 12
prepare (a bed) for use with fresh sheets etc. 13 Printing
arrange (type) in pages. 14 compile (a list, an account, a
document, etc.). 15 arrange (a marriage etc.). make up one's
mind decide, resolve. make up to curry favour with; court.
make water 1 urinate. 2 (of a ship) take in water. make way 1
(often foll. by for) allow room for others to proceed. 2
achieve progress. make one's way proceed. make with US colloq.
supply; perform; proceed with (made with the feet and left in a
hurry). on the make colloq. 1 intent on gain. 2 looking for
sexual partners. self-made man etc. a man etc. who has
succeeded by his own efforts. ЬЬmakable adj. [OE macian f. WG:
rel. to MATCH(1)]
maker n. 1 (often in comb.) a person or thing that makes. 2 (our,
the , etc. Maker) God. 3 archaic a poet.
makeshift adj. & n. --adj. temporary; serving for the time being (a
makeshift arrangement). --n. a temporary substitute or device.
n. 1 a small quantity or thing added to make up the full
weight. 2 an unimportant extra person. 3 an unimportant point
added to make an argument seem stronger.
making n. 1 in senses of MAKE v. 2 (in pl.) a earnings; profit. b
(foll. by of) essential qualities or ingredients (has the
makings of a general; we have the makings of a meal). c US &
Austral. colloq. paper and tobacco for rolling a cigarette.
Ьbe the making of ensure the success or favourable development
of. in the making in the course of being made or formed. [OE
macung (as MAKE)]
mako(1) n. (pl. -os) a blue shark, Isurus oxyrinchus. [Maori]
mako(2) n. (pl. -os) a small New Zealand tree, Aristotelia serrata,
with clusters of dark-red berries and large racemes of pink
flowers. Also called WINEBERRY. [Maori]
Mal. abbr. Malachi (Old Testament).
mal- comb. form 1 a bad, badly (malpractice; maltreat). b faulty,
faultily (malfunction). 2 not (maladroit). [F mal badly f. L
n. imperfect absorption of food material by the small
malacca n. (in full malacca cane) a rich-brown cane from the stem of the
palm-tree Calamus scipionum, used for walking-sticks etc.
[Malacca in Malaysia]
malachite n. a bright-green mineral of hydrous copper carbonate, taking a
high polish and used for ornament. [OF melochite f. L
molochites f. Gk molokhitis f. molokhe = malakhe mallow]
malaco- comb. form soft. [Gk malakos soft]
n. the study of molluscs.
n. & adj. --n. any crustacean of the class Malacostraca,
including crabs, shrimps, lobsters, and krill. --adj. of or
relating to this class. [MALACO- + Gk ostrakon shell]
adj. (of an individual, species, etc.) failing to adjust
adequately to the environment, and undergoing emotional,
behavioural, physical, or mental repercussions. ЬЬmaladaptation
adj. 1 not correctly adjusted. 2 (of a person) unable to adapt
to or cope with the demands of a social environment.
v.tr. manage or administer inefficiently, badly, or
dishonestly. ЬЬmaladministration n.
malady n. (pl. -ies) 1 an ailment; a disease. 2 a morbid or depraved
condition; something requiring a remedy. [ME f. OF maladie f.
malade sick ult. f. L male ill + habitus past part. of habere
mala fide adj. & adv. --adj. acting or done in bad faith. --adv. in bad
Malaga n. a sweet fortified wine from M laga in S. Spain.
Malagasy adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Madagascar, an island in the
Indian Ocean. --n. the language of Madagascar. [orig.
Malegass, Madegass f. Madagascar]
malague¤a n. 1 a Spanish dance resembling the fandango. 2 a piece of
music for or in the style of a fandango. [Sp. (as MALAGA)]
malaise n. 1 a nonspecific bodily discomfort not associated with the
development of a disease. 2 a feeling of uneasiness. [F f. OF
mal bad + aise EASE]
malamute n. (also malemute) an Eskimo dog. [name of an Alaskan Eskimo
malanders var. of MALLENDERS.
malapert adj. & n. archaic --adj. impudent; saucy. --n. an impudent or
saucy person. [ME f. OF (as MAL-, apert = espert EXPERT)]
n. (also malaprop) the use of a word in mistake for one
sounding similar, to comic effect, e.g. allegory for alligator.
[Mrs Malaprop (f. MALAPROPOS) in Sheridan's The Rivals (1775)]
adv., adj., & n. --adv. inopportunely; inappropriately. --adj.
inopportune; inappropriate. --n. something inappropriately
said, done, etc. [F mal … propos f. mal ill: see APROPOS]
malar adj. & n. --adj. of the cheek. --n. a bone of the cheek.
[mod.L malaris f. L mala jaw]
malaria n. 1 an intermittent and remittent fever caused by a protozoan
parasite of the genus Plasmodium, introduced by the bite of a
mosquito. 2 archaic an unwholesome atmosphere caused by the
exhalations of marshes, to which this fever was formerly
attributed. ЬЬmalarial adj. malarian adj. malarious adj.
[It. mal' aria bad air]
malarkey n. colloq. humbug; nonsense. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
malathion n. an insecticide containing phosphorus, with low toxicity to
plants. [diethyl maleate + thio- acid + -ON]
Malay n. & adj. --n. 1 a a member of a people predominating in
Malaysia and Indonesia. b a person of Malay descent. 2 the
language of this people, the official language of Malaysia.
--adj. of or relating to this people or language. ЬЬMalayan n.
& adj. [Malay malayu]
Malayalam n. the Dravidian language of the State of Kerala in S. India.
Malayo- comb. form Malayan and (Malayo-Chinese). [MALAY]
n. & adj. --n. a discontented person; a rebel. --adj.
discontented or rebellious. [F (as MAL-, CONTENT(1))]
mal de mer
n. seasickness. [F, = sickness of (the) sea]
male adj. & n. --adj. 1 of the sex that can beget offspring by
fertilization or insemination (male child; male dog). 2 of men
or male animals, plants, etc.; masculine (the male sex; a
male-voice choir). 3 a (of plants or their parts) containing
only fertilizing organs. b (of plants) thought of as male
because of colour, shape, etc. 4 (of parts of machinery etc.)
designed to enter or fill the corresponding female part (a male
screw). --n. a male person or animal. Ьmale chauvinist a man
who is prejudiced against women or regards women as inferior.
male fern a common lowland fern, Dryopteris filixmas. male
menopause a crisis of potency, confidence, etc., supposed to
afflict men in middle life. ЬЬmaleness n. [ME f. OF ma(s)le,
f. L masculus f. mas a male]
n. 1 a curse. 2 the utterance of a curse. ЬЬmaledictive adj.
maledictory adj. [ME f. L maledictio f. maledicere speak evil
of f. male ill + dicere dict- speak]
n. a criminal; an evil-doer. ЬЬmalefaction n. [ME f. L f.
malefacere malefact- f. male ill + facere do]
malefic adj. literary (of magical arts etc.) harmful; baleful. [L
maleficus f. male ill]
adj. literary 1 (often foll. by to) hurtful. 2 criminal.
ЬЬmaleficence n. [maleficence formed as MALEFIC after
n. a colourless crystalline organic acid used in making
synthetic resins. [F mal‚ique (as MALIC ACID)]
malemute var. of MALAMUTE.
adj. wishing evil to others. ЬЬmalevolence n. malevolently
adv. [OF malivolent or f. L malevolens f. male ill + volens
willing, part. of velle]
n. Law evil-doing. ЬЬmalfeasant n. & adj. [AF malfaisance f.
OF malfaisant (as MAL-, faisant part. of faire do f. L facere):
n. faulty formation. ЬЬmalformed adj.
n. & v. --n. a failure to function in a normal or satisfactory
manner. --v.intr. fail to function normally or satisfactorily.
mali n. (pl. malis) Ind. a member of the gardener caste; a
n. an organic acid found in unripe apples and other fruits. [F
malique f. L malum apple]
malice n. 1 a the intention to do evil. b a desire to tease, esp.
cruelly. 2 Law wrongful intention, esp. as increasing the guilt
of certain offences. Ьmalice aforethought (or prepense) Law the
intention to commit a crime, esp. murder. [ME f. OF f. L
malitia f. malus bad]
malicious adj. characterized by malice; intending or intended to do harm.
ЬЬmaliciously adv. maliciousness n. [OF malicius f. L
malitiosus (as MALICE)]
malign adj. & v. --adj. 1 (of a thing) injurious. 2 (of a disease)
malignant. 3 malevolent. --v.tr. speak ill of; slander.
ЬЬmaligner n. malignity n. (pl. -ies). malignly adv. [ME f.
OF malin maligne, malignier f. LL malignare contrive maliciously
f. L malignus f. malus bad: cf. BENIGN]
malignant adj. 1 a (of a disease) very virulent or infectious (malignant
cholera). b (of a tumour) tending to invade normal tissue and
recur after removal; cancerous. 2 harmful; feeling or showing
intense ill will. Ьmalignant pustule a form of anthrax.
ЬЬmalignancy n. (pl. -ies). malignantly adv. [LL malignare
malinger v.intr. exaggerate or feign illness in order to escape duty,
work, etc. ЬЬmalingerer n. [back-form. f. malingerer app. f.
F malingre, perh. formed as MAL- + haingre weak]
mall n. 1 a sheltered walk or promenade. 2 an enclosed shopping
precinct. 3 hist. a = PALL-MALL. b an alley used for this.
[var. of MAUL: applied to The Mall in London (orig. a pall-mall
mallard n. (pl. same or mallards) 1 a wild duck or drake, Anas
platyrhynchos, of the northern hemisphere. 2 the flesh of the
mallard. [ME f. OF prob. f. maslart (unrecorded, as MALE)]
malleable adj. 1 (of metal etc.) able to be hammered or pressed
permanently out of shape without breaking or cracking. 2
adaptable; pliable, flexible. ЬЬmalleability n. malleably adv.
[ME f. OF f. med.L malleabilis f. L malleare to hammer f.
mallee n. Austral. 1 any of several types of eucalyptus, esp.
Eucalyptus dumosa, that flourish in arid areas. 2 a scrub
formed by mallee. Ьmallee-bird (or -fowl or -hen) a megapode,
Leipoa ocellata, resembling a turkey. [Aboriginal]
mallei pl. of MALLEUS.
mallemuck var. of MOLLYMAWK.
n.pl. (also malanders) a dry scabby eruption behind a horse's
knee. [ME f. OF malandre (sing.) f. L malandria (pl.)
malleolus n. (pl. malleoli) Anat. a bone with the shape of a
hammer-head, esp. each of those forming a projection on either
side of the ankle. [L, dimin. of malleus hammer]
mallet n. 1 a hammer, usu. of wood. 2 a long-handled wooden hammer
for striking a croquet or polo ball. [ME f. OF maillet f.
mailler to hammer f. mail hammer f. L malleus]
malleus n. (pl. mallei) Anat. a small bone in the middle ear
transmitting the vibrations of the tympanum to the incus. [L, =
mallow n. 1 any plant of the genus Malva, esp. M. sylvestris, with
hairy stems and leaves and pink or purple flowers. 2 any of
several other plants of the family Malvaceae, including marsh
mallow and tree mallow. [OE meal(u)we f. L malva]
malm n. 1 a soft chalky rock. 2 a loamy soil produced by the
disintegration of this rock. 3 a fine-quality brick made
originally from malm, marl, or a similar chalky clay. [OE
mealm- (in compounds) f. Gmc]
malmsey n. a strong sweet wine orig. from Greece, now chiefly from
Madeira. [ME f. MDu., MLG malmesie, -eye, f. Monemvasia in S.
Greece: cf. MALVOISIE]
adj. suffering from malnutrition. ЬЬmalnourishment n.
n. = MALNUTRITION.
n. a dietary condition resulting from the absence of some foods
or essential elements necessary for health; insufficient
n. a layer of proliferating cells in the epidermis. [M.
Malpighi, It. physician d. 1694]
n. 1 improper or negligent professional treatment, esp. by a
medical practitioner. 2 a criminal wrongdoing; misconduct. b
an instance of this.
malt n. & v. --n. 1 barley or other grain that is steeped,
germinated, and dried, esp. for brewing or distilling and
vinegar-making. 2 colloq. malt whisky; malt liquor. --v. 1
tr. convert (grain) into malt. 2 intr. (of seeds) become malt
when germination is checked by drought. Ьmalted milk 1 a hot
drink made from dried milk and a malt preparation. 2 the
powdered mixture from which this is made. malt-house a building
used for preparing and storing malt. malt liquor alcoholic
liquor made from malt by fermentation, not distillation, e.g.
beer, stout. malt whisky whisky made from malted barley. [OE
m(e)alt f. Gmc, rel. to MELT]
Maltese n. & adj. --n. 1 (pl. same) a a native or national of Malta,
an island in the W. Mediterranean. b a person of Maltese
descent. 2 the language of Malta. --adj. of or relating to
Malta or its people or language. ЬMaltese cross a cross with
arms of equal length broadening from the centre, often indented
at the ends. Maltese dog (or terrier) a small breed of spaniel
maltha n. a cement made of pitch and wax or other ingredients. [L f.
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to T. R. Malthus, English
clergyman and economist (d. 1834) or his theories, esp. that
sexual restraint should be exercised as a means of preventing an
increase of the population beyond its means of subsistence.
--n. a follower of Malthus. ЬЬMalthusianism n.
malting n. 1 the process or an instance of brewing or distilling with
malt. 2 = malt-house.
maltose n. Chem. a sugar produced by the hydrolysis of starch under
the action of the enzymes in malt, saliva, etc. [F (as MALT)]
maltreat v.tr. ill-treat. ЬЬmaltreater n. maltreatment n. [F
maltraiter (as MAL-, TREAT)]
maltster n. a person who makes malt.
malty adj. (maltier, maltiest) of, containing, or resembling malt.
adj. Bot. of or relating to the genus Malva or the family
Malvaceae, which includes mallow. [L malvaceus f. malva
n. formal 1 corrupt behaviour in a position of trust. 2 (often
foll. by of) corrupt administration (of public money etc.). [F
f. malverser f. L male badly + versari behave]
malvoisie n. = MALMSEY. [ME f. OF malvesie f. F form of Monemvasia: see
mam n. colloq. mother. [formed as MAMA]
mama n. colloq. (esp. as a child's term) = MAMMA.
mamba n. any venomous African snake of the genus Dendroaspis, esp.
the green mamba (D. angusticeps) or black mamba (D. polylepis).
mambo n. & v. --n. (pl. -os) 1 a Latin American dance like the
rumba. 2 the music for this. --v.intr. (-oes, -oed) perform
the mambo. [Amer. Sp. prob. f. Haitian]
mamelon n. a small rounded hillock. [F, = nipple f. mamelle breast f.
Mameluke n. hist. a member of the military class (orig. Caucasian
slaves) that ruled Egypt 1254-1811. [F mameluk, ult. f. Arab.
mamluk slave f. malaka possess]
mamilla n. (US mammilla) (pl. mamillae) 1 the nipple of a woman's
breast. 2 a nipple-shaped organ etc. ЬЬmamillary adj.
mamillate adj. [L, dimin. of MAMMA(2)]
mamma(1) n. (also momma) colloq. (esp. as a child's term) mother.
[imit. of child's ma, ma]
mamma(2) n. (pl. mammae) 1 a milk-secreting organ of female mammals. 2
a corresponding non-secretory structure in male mammals.
ЬЬmammiform adj. [OE f. L]
mammal n. any vertebrate of the class Mammalia, usu. a warm-blooded
quadruped with hair or fur, the females of which possess
milk-secreting mammae for the nourishment of the young, and
including human beings, dogs, rabbits, whales, etc. ЬЬmammalian
adj. & n. mammalogy n. [mod.L mammalia neut. pl. of L mammalis
mammary adj. of the human female breasts or milk-secreting organs of
other mammals. Ьmammary gland the milk-producing gland of
female mammals. [MAMMA(2) + -ARY(1)]
mammee n. a tropical American tree, Mammea americana, with large
red-rinded yellow-pulped fruit. [Sp. mamei f. Haitian]
mammilla US var. of MAMILLA.
n. Med. an X-ray technique of diagnosing and locating
abnormalities (esp. tumours) of the breasts. [MAMMA(2) +
Mammon n. 1 wealth regarded as a god or as an evil influence. 2 the
worldly rich. ЬЬMammonish adj. Mammonism n. Mammonist n.
Mammonite n. [ME f. LL Mam(m)ona f. Gk mamonas f. Aram. mamon
riches: see Matt. 6:24, Luke 16:9-13]
mammoth n. & adj. --n. any large extinct elephant of the genus
Mammuthus, with a hairy coat and curved tusks. --adj. huge.
mammy n. (pl. -ies) 1 a child's word for mother. 2 US a Black
nursemaid or nanny in charge of White children. [formed as
Man. abbr. Manitoba.
man n. & v. --n. (pl. men) 1 an adult human male, esp. as
distinct from a woman or boy. 2 a a human being; a person (no
man is perfect). b human beings in general; the human race (man
is mortal). 3 a person showing characteristics associated with
males (she's more of a man than he is). 4 a a worker; an
employee (the manager spoke to the men). b a manservant or
valet. c hist. a vassal. 5 a (usu. in pl.) soldiers, sailors,
etc., esp. non-officers (was in command of 200 men). b an
individual, usu. male, person (fought to the last man). c (usu.
prec. by the, or poss. pron.) a person regarded as suitable or
appropriate in some way; a person fulfilling requirements (I'm
your man; not the man for the job). 6 a a husband (man and
wife). b colloq. a boyfriend or lover. 7 a a human being of a
specified historical period or character (Renaissance man). b a
type of prehistoric man named after the place where the remains
were found (Peking man; Piltdown man). 8 any one of a set of
pieces used in playing chess, draughts, etc. 9 (as second
element in comb.) a man of a specified nationality, profession,
skill, etc. (Dutchman; clergyman; horseman; gentleman). 10 a an
expression of impatience etc. used in addressing a male
(nonsense, man!). b colloq. a general mode of address among
hippies etc. (blew my mind, man!). 11 (prec. by a) a person;
one (what can a man do?). 12 a person pursued; an opponent etc.
(the police have so far not caught their man). 13 (the Man) US
sl. a the police. b Blacksl. White people. 14 (in comb.) a
ship of a specified type (merchantman; Indiaman). --v.tr.
(manned, manning) 1 supply (a ship, fort, factory, etc.) with a
person or people for work or defence etc. 2 work or service or
defend (a specified piece of equipment, a fortification, etc.)
(man the pumps). 3 Naut. place men at (a part of a ship). 4
fill (a post or office). 5 (usu. refl.) fortify the spirits or
courage of (manned herself for the task). Ьas one man in
unison; in agreement. be a man be courageous; not show fear.
be one's own man 1 be free to act; be independent. 2 be in full
possession of one's faculties etc. man about town a fashionable
man of leisure. man and boy from childhood. man-at-arms (pl.
men-at-arms) archaic a soldier, esp. when heavily armed and
mounted. man Friday see FRIDAY. man-hour (or day etc.) an hour
(or day etc.) regarded in terms of the amount of work that could
be done by one person within this period. man in the moon the
semblance of a face seen on the surface of a full moon. man in
(US on) the street an ordinary average person, as distinct from
an expert. man-made (esp. of a textile fibre) made by man,
artificial, synthetic. man of God 1 a clergyman. 2 a male
saint. man of honour a man whose word can be trusted. man of
the house the male head of a household. man of letters a
scholar; an author. man of the moment a man of importance at a
particular time. man of straw 1 an insubstantial person; an
imaginary person set up as an opponent. 2 a stuffed effigy. 3
a person undertaking a financial commitment without adequate
means. 4 a sham argument set up to be defeated. man-of-war an
armed ship, esp. of a specified country. man of the world see
WORLD. man-size (or -sized) 1 of the size of a man; very large.
2 big enough for a man. man to man with candour; honestly.
men's (or men's room) a usu. public lavatory for men. my (or my
good) man a patronizing mode of address to a man. separate (or
sort out) the men from the boys colloq. find those who are
truly virile, competent, etc. to a man all without exception.
ЬЬmanless adj. [OE man(n), pl. menn, mannian, f. Gmc]
mana n. 1 power; authority; prestige. 2 supernatural or magical
manacle n. & v. --n. (usu. in pl.) 1 a fetter or shackle for the hand;
a handcuff. 2 a restraint. --v.tr. fetter with manacles. [ME
f. OF manicle handcuff f. L manicula dimin. of manus hand]
manage v. & n. --v. 1 tr. organize; regulate; be in charge of (a
business, household, team, a person's career, etc.). 2 tr.
(often foll. by to + infin.) succeed in achieving; contrive
(managed to arrive on time; managed a smile; managed to ruin the
day). 3 intr. a (often foll. by with) succeed in one's aim,
esp. against heavy odds (managed with one assistant). b meet
one's needs with limited resources etc. (just about manages on a
pension). 4 tr. gain influence with or maintain control over (a
person etc.) (cannot manage their teenage son). 5 tr. (also
absol.; often prec. by can, be able to) a cope with; make use of
(couldn't manage another bite; can you manage by yourself?). b
be free to attend on (a certain day) or at (a certain time) (can
you manage Thursday?). 6 tr. handle or wield (a tool, weapon,
etc.). 7 tr. take or have charge or control of (an animal or
animals, esp. cattle). --n. archaic 1 a the training of a
horse. b the trained movements of a horse. 2 a riding-school
(cf. MAN°GE). [It. maneggiare, maneggio ult. f. L manus hand]
adj. able to be easily managed, controlled, or accomplished
etc. ЬЬmanageability n. manageableness n. manageably adv.
n. 1 the process or an instance of managing or being managed.
2 a the professional administration of business concerns, public
undertakings, etc. b the people engaged in this. c (prec. by
the) a governing body; a board of directors or the people in
charge of running a business, regarded collectively. 3 (usu.
foll. by of) Med. the technique of treating a disease etc. 4
manager n. 1 a person controlling or administering a business or part
of a business. 2 a person controlling the affairs, training,
etc. of a person or team in sports, entertainment, etc. 3 Brit.
Parl. a member of either House of Parliament appointed with
others for some duty in which both Houses are concerned. 4 a
person regarded in terms of skill in household or financial or
other management (a good manager). ЬЬmanagerial adj.
managerially adv. managership n.
n. a woman manager, esp. of a shop, hotel, theatre, etc.
managing adj. 1 (in comb.) having executive control or authority
(managing director). 2 (attrib.) fond of controlling affairs
etc. 3 archaic economical.
manakin n. any small bird of the family Pipridae of Central and S.
America, the males of which are often brightly coloured. [var.
ma¤ana adv. & n. --adv. in the indefinite future (esp. to indicate
procrastination). --n. an indefinite future time. [Sp., =
manatee n. any large aquatic plant-eating mammal of the genus
Trichechus, with paddle-like forelimbs, no hind limbs, and a
powerful tail. [Sp. manati f. Carib manattou‹]
n. a W. Indian tree, Hippomane mancinella, with a poisonous and
caustic milky sap and acrid apple-like fruit. [F mancenille f.
Sp. manzanilla dimin. of manzana apple]
Manchu n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a people in China, descended from
a Tartar people, who formed the last imperial dynasty
(1644-1912). 2 the language of the Manchus, now spoken in part
of NE China. --adj. of or relating to the Manchu people or
their language. [Manchu, = pure]
manciple n. an officer who buys provisions for a college, an Inn of
Court, etc. [ME f. AF & OF f. L mancipium purchase f. manceps
buyer f. manus hand + capere take]
Mancunian n. & adj. --n. a native of Manchester in NW England. --adj. of
or relating to Manchester. [L Mancunium Manchester]
-mancy comb. form forming nouns meaning 'divination by' (geomancy;
necromancy). ЬЬ-mantic comb. form forming adjectives. [OF
-mancie f. LL -mantia f. Gk manteia divination]
Mandaean n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of a Gnostic sect surviving in Iraq
and claiming descent from John the Baptist. 2 the language of
this sect. --adj. of or concerning the Mandaeans or their
language. [Aram. mandaiia Gnostics f. manda knowledge]
mandala n. 1 a symbolic circular figure representing the universe in
various religions. 2 Psychol. such a symbol in a dream,
representing the dreamer's search for completeness and
self-unity. [Skr. m ndala disc]
mandamus n. Law a judicial writ issued as a command to an inferior
court, or ordering a person to perform a public or statutory
duty. [L, = we command]
n. 1 (Mandarin) the most widely spoken form of Chinese and the
official language of China. 2 hist. a Chinese official in any
of nine grades of the pre-Communist civil service. 3 a a party
leader; a bureaucrat. b a powerful member of the establishment.
4 a a nodding Chinese figure, usu. of porcelain. b porcelain
etc. decorated with Chinese figures in mandarin dress.
Ьmandarin collar a small close-fitting upright collar. mandarin
duck a small Chinese duck, Aix galericulata, noted for its
bright plumage. mandarin sleeve a wide loose sleeve.
ЬЬmandarinate n. [Port. mandarim f. Malay f. Hindi mantri f.
Skr. mantrin counsellor]
n. (also mandarine) (in full mandarin orange) 1 a small
flattish deep-coloured orange with a loose skin. 2 the tree,
Citrus reticulata, yielding this. Also called TANGERINE. [F
mandarine (perh. as MANDARIN(1), with ref. to the official's
mandatary n. (pl. -ies) esp. hist. a person or State receiving a
mandate. [LL mandatarius (as MANDATE)]
mandate n. & v. --n. 1 an official command or instruction by an
authority. 2 support for a policy or course of action, regarded
by a victorious party, candidate, etc., as derived from the
wishes of the people in an election. 3 a commission to act for
another. 4 Law a commission by which a party is entrusted to
perform a service, often gratuitously and with indemnity against
loss by that party. 5 hist. a commission from the League of
Nations to a member State to administer a territory. 6 a papal
decree or decision. --v.tr. 1 instruct (a delegate) to act or
vote in a certain way. 2 (usu. foll. by to) hist. commit (a
territory etc.) to a mandatary. ЬЬmandator n. [L mandatum,
neut. past part. of mandare command f. manus hand + dare give:
sense 2 of n. after F mandat]
mandatory adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or conveying a command. 2 compulsory.
--n. (pl. -ies) = MANDATARY. ЬЬmandatorily adv. [LL
mandatorius f. L (as MANDATE)]
mandible n. 1 the jaw, esp. the lower jaw in mammals and fishes. 2 the
upper or lower part of a bird's beak. 3 either half of the
crushing organ in an arthropod's mouth-parts. ЬЬmandibular adj.
mandibulate adj. [ME f. OF mandible or LL mandibula f. mandere
mandolin n. (also mandoline) a musical instrument resembling a lute,
having paired metal strings plucked with a plectrum.
ЬЬmandolinist n. [F mandoline f. It. mandolino dimin. of
mandorla n. = VESICA 2. [It., = almond]
n. hist. the mandrake, esp. as a type of narcotic (Shakesp.
Othello III. iii. 334). [OE f. med.L f. L f. Gk mandragoras]
mandrake n. a poisonous plant, Mandragora officinarum, with white or
purple flowers and large yellow fruit, having emetic and
narcotic properties and possessing a root once thought to
resemble the human form and to shriek when plucked. [ME
mandrag(g)e, prob. f. MDu. mandrag(r)e f. med.L (as
MANDRAGORA): assoc. with MAN + drake dragon (cf. DRAKE(1))]
mandrel n. 1 a a shaft in a lathe to which work is fixed while being
turned. b a cylindrical rod round which metal or other material
is forged or shaped. 2 Brit. a miner's pick. [16th c.: orig.
mandrill n. a large W. African baboon, Papio sphinx, the adult of which
has a brilliantly coloured face and blue-coloured buttocks.
[prob. f. MAN + DRILL(3)]
manducate v.tr. literary chew; eat. ЬЬmanducation n. manducatory adj.
[L manducare manducat- chew f. manduco guzzler f. mandere
mane n. 1 long hair growing in a line on the neck of a horse, lion,
etc. 2 colloq. a person's long hair. ЬЬmaned adj. (also in
comb.). maneless adj. [OE manu f. Gmc]
manЉge n. (also manege) 1 a riding-school. 2 the movements of a
trained horse. 3 horsemanship. [F manЉge f. It. (as MANAGE)]
manes n.pl. 1 the deified souls of dead ancestors. 2 (as sing.) the
revered ghost of a dead person. [ME f. L]
maneuver US var. of MANOEUVRE.
manful adj. brave; resolute. ЬЬmanfully adv. manfulness n.
mangabey n. any small long-tailed W. African monkey of the genus
Cercocebus. [Mangabey, a region of Madagascar]
manganese n. 1 Chem. a grey brittle metallic transition element used with
steel to make alloys. °Symb.: Mn. 2 (in full manganese oxide)
the black mineral oxide of this used in the manufacture of
glass. ЬЬmanganic adj. manganous adj. [F manganЉse f. It.
manganese, alt. f. MAGNESIA]
mange n. a skin disease in hairy and woolly animals, caused by an
arachnid parasite and occasionally communicated to man. [ME
mangie, maniewe f. OF manjue, mangeue itch f. mangier manju-
eat f. L manducare chew]
mangel n. (also mangold) (in full mangel-wurzel, mangold-wurzel) a
large kind of beet, Beta vulgaris, used as cattle food. [G
Mangoldwurzel f. Mangold beet + Wurzel root]
manger n. a long open box or trough in a stable etc., for horses or
cattle to eat from. [ME f. OF mangeoire, mangeure ult. f. L (as
n. the sugar-pea. [F, = eat-all]
mangle(1) n. & v. esp. Brit. hist. --n. a machine having two or more
cylinders usu. turned by a handle, between which wet clothes
etc. are squeezed and pressed. --v.tr. press (clothes etc.) in
a mangle. [Du. mangel(stok) f. mangelen to mangle, ult. f. Gk
magganon + stok staff, STOCK]
mangle(2) v.tr. 1 hack, cut about, or mutilate by blows etc. 2 spoil (a
quotation, text, etc.) by misquoting, mispronouncing, etc. 3
cut roughly so as to disfigure. ЬЬmangler n. [AF ma(ha)ngler,
app. frequent. of mahaignier MAIM]
mango n. (pl. -oes or -os) 1 a fleshy yellowish-red fruit, eaten
ripe or used green for pickles etc. 2 the Indian evergreen
tree, Mangifera indica, bearing this. [Port. manga f. Malay
manga f. Tamil mankay f. man mango-tree + kay fruit]
mangold (also mangold-wurzel) var. of MANGEL.
mangonel n. Mil. hist. a military engine for throwing stones etc. [ME
f. OF mangonel(le), f. med.L manganellus dimin. of LL manganum
f. Gk magganon]
n. 1 a white juicy-pulped fruit with a thick reddish-brown
rind. 2 the E. Indian tree, Garcinia mangostana, bearing this.
mangrove n. any tropical tree or shrub of the genus Rhizophora, growing
in shore-mud with many tangled roots above ground. [17th c.:
orig. uncert.: assim. to GROVE]
mangy adj. (mangier, mangiest) 1 (esp. of a domestic animal) having
mange. 2 squalid; shabby. ЬЬmangily adv. manginess n.
manhandle v.tr. 1 move (heavy objects) by human effort. 2 colloq. handle
(a person) roughly.
manhattan n. a cocktail made of vermouth, whisky, etc. [Manhattan,
borough of New York City]
manhole n. a covered opening in a floor, pavement, sewer, etc. for
workmen to gain access.
manhood n. 1 the state of being a man rather than a child or woman. 2
a manliness; courage. b a man's sexual potency. 3 the men of a
country etc. 4 the state of being human.
manhunt n. an organized search for a person, esp. a criminal.
mania n. 1 Psychol. mental illness marked by periods of great
excitement and violence. 2 (often foll. by for) excessive
enthusiasm; an obsession (has a mania for jogging). [ME f. LL
f. Gk, = madness f. mainomai be mad, rel. to MIND]
-mania comb. form 1 Psychol. denoting a special type of mental
abnormality or obsession (megalomania; nymphomania). 2 denoting
extreme enthusiasm or admiration (bibliomania; Anglomania).
maniac n. & adj. --n. 1 colloq. a person exhibiting extreme symptoms
of wild behaviour etc.; a madman. 2 colloq. an obsessive
enthusiast. 3 Psychol. archaic a person suffering from mania.
--adj. of or behaving like a maniac. ЬЬmaniacal adj.
maniacally adv. [LL maniacus f. late Gk maniakos (as MANIA)]
-maniac comb. form forming adjectives and nouns meaning 'affected with
-mania' or 'a person affected with -mania' (nymphomaniac).
manic adj. of or affected by mania. Ьmanic-depressive Psychol. adj.
affected by or relating to a mental disorder with alternating
periods of elation and depression. --n. a person having such a
disorder. ЬЬmanically adv.
Manichee n. 1 an adherent of a religious system of the 3rd-5th c.,
representing Satan in a state of everlasting conflict with God.
2 Philos. a dualist (see DUALISM). ЬЬManichean adj. & n. (also
Manichaean). Manicheism n. (also Manichaeism). [LL Manichaeus
f. late Gk Manikhaios, f. Manes or Manichaeus Persian founder
of the sect]
manicure n. & v. --n. 1 a usu. professional cosmetic treatment of the
hands and fingernails. 2 = MANICURIST. --v.tr. apply a
manicure to (the hands or a person). [F f. L manus hand + cura
n. a person who manicures hands and fingernails professionally.
adj. & v. --adj. clear or obvious to the eye or mind (his
distress was manifest). --v. 1 tr. display or show (a quality,
feeling, etc.) by one's acts etc. 2 tr. show plainly to the eye
or mind. 3 tr. be evidence of; prove. 4 refl. (of a thing)
reveal itself. 5 intr. (of a ghost) appear. ЬЬmanifestation n.
manifestative adj. manifestly adv. [ME f. OF manifeste (adj.),
manifester (v.) or L manifestus, manifestare f. manus hand +
festus (unrecorded) struck]
n. & v. --n. 1 a cargo-list for the use of customs officers.
2 a list of passengers in an aircraft or of trucks etc. in a
goods train. --v.tr. record (names, cargo, etc.) in a manifest.
[It. manifesto: see MANIFESTO]
manifesto n. (pl. -os) a public declaration of policy and aims esp.
issued before an election by a political party, candidate,
government, etc. [It. f. manifestare f. L (as MANIFEST(1))]
manifold adj. & n. --adj. literary 1 many and various (manifold
vexations). 2 having various forms, parts, applications, etc.
3 performing several functions at once. --n. 1 a thing with
many different forms, parts, applications, etc. 2 Mech. a pipe
or chamber branching into several openings. ЬЬmanifoldly adv.
manifoldness n. [OE manigfeald (as MANY, -FOLD)]
manikin n. (also mannikin) 1 a little man; a dwarf. 2 an artist's lay
figure. 3 an anatomical model of the body. 4 (usu. mannikin)
any small finchlike bird of the genus Lonchura, native to Africa
and Australasia. [Du. manneken, dimin. of man MAN]
Manila n. (also Manilla) 1 a cigar or cheroot made in Manila. 2 (in
full Manila hemp) the strong fibre of a Philippine tree, Musa
textilis, used for rope etc. 3 (also manila) a strong brown
paper made from Manila hemp or other material and used for
wrapping paper, envelopes, etc. [Manila in the Philippines]
manilla n. a metal bracelet used by African tribes as a medium of
exchange. [Sp., prob. dimin. of mano hand f. L manus]
manille n. the second best trump or honour in ombre or quadrille. [F
f. Sp. malilla dimin. of mala bad f. L malus]
manioc n. 1 cassava. 2 the flour made from it. [Tupi mandioca]
maniple n. 1 Rom.Hist. a subdivision of a legion, containing 120 or 60
men. 2 a Eucharistic vestment consisting of a strip hanging
from the left arm. [OF maniple or L manipulus handful, troop f.
v.tr. 1 handle, treat, or use, esp. skilfully (a tool,
question, material, etc.). 2 manage (a person, situation, etc.)
to one's own advantage, esp. unfairly or unscrupulously. 3
manually examine and treat (a part of the body). 4 Computing
alter, edit, or move (text, data, etc.). 5 stimulate (the
genitals). ЬЬmanipulable adj. manipulability n. manipulatable
adj. manipulation n. manipulator n. manipulatory adj.
[back-form. f. manipulation f. F manipulation f. mod.L
manipulatio (as MANIPLE), after F manipuler]
adj. 1 characterized by unscrupulous exploitation of a
situation, person, etc., for one's own ends. 2 of or concerning
manipulation. ЬЬmanipulatively adv. manipulativeness n.
Manit. abbr. Manitoba.
manitou n. Amer. Ind. 1 a good or evil spirit as an object of
reverence. 2 something regarded as having supernatural power.
[Algonquin manito, -tu he has surpassed]
mankind n. 1 the human species. 2 male people, as distinct from
manlike adj. 1 having the qualities of a man. 2 (of a woman) mannish.
3 (of an animal, shape, etc.) resembling a human being.
manly adj. (manlier, manliest) 1 having qualities regarded as
admirable in a man, such as courage, frankness, etc. 2 (of a
woman) mannish. 3 (of things, qualities, etc.) befitting a man.
manna n. 1 the substance miraculously supplied as food to the
Israelites in the wilderness (Exod. 16). 2 an unexpected
benefit (esp. manna from heaven). 3 spiritual nourishment, esp.
the Eucharist. 4 the sweet dried juice from the manna-ash and
other plants, used as a mild laxative. Ьmanna-ash an ash tree
native to S. Europe, Fraxinus ornus. [OE f. LL f. Gk f. Aram.
manna f. Heb. man, explained as = man hu? what is it?, but
prob. = Arab. mann exudation of common tamarisk (Tamarix
manned adj. (of an aircraft, spacecraft, etc.) having a human crew.
[past part. of MAN]
mannequin n. 1 a model employed by a dressmaker etc. to show clothes to
customers. 2 a window dummy. [F, = MANIKIN]
manner n. 1 a way a thing is done or happens (always dresses in that
manner). 2 (in pl.) a social behaviour (it is bad manners to
stare). b polite or well-bred behaviour (he has no manners). c
modes of life; conditions of society. 3 a person's outward
bearing, way of speaking, etc. (has an imperious manner). 4 a a
style in literature, art, etc. (in the manner of Rembrandt). b
= MANNERISM 2a. 5 archaic a kind or sort (what manner of man is
he?). Ьall manner of many different kinds of. comedy of
manners satirical portrayal of social behaviour, esp. of the
upper classes. in a manner of speaking in some sense; to some
extent; so to speak. manner of means see MEANS. to the manner
born 1 colloq. naturally at ease in a specified job, situation,
etc. 2 destined by birth to follow a custom or way of life
(Shakesp. Hamlet I. iv. 17). ЬЬmannerless adj. (in sense 2b of
n.). [ME f. AF manere, OF maniere ult. f. L manuarius of the
mannered adj. 1 (in comb.) behaving in a specified way (ill-mannered;
well-mannered). 2 (of a style, artist, writer, etc.) showing
idiosyncratic mannerisms. 3 (of a person) eccentrically
affected in behaviour.
mannerism n. 1 a habitual gesture or way of speaking etc.; an
idiosyncrasy. 2 a excessive addiction to a distinctive style in
art or literature. b a stylistic trick. 3 a style of Italian
art preceding the Baroque, characterized by lengthened figures.
ЬЬmannerist n. manneristic adj. manneristical adj.
manneristically adv. [MANNER]
mannish adj. 1 usu. derog. (of a woman) masculine in appearance or
manner. 2 characteristic of a man. ЬЬmannishly adv.
mannishness n. [OE mennisc f. (and assim. to) MAN]
manoeuvre n. & v. (US maneuver) --n. 1 a planned and controlled movement
or series of moves. 2 (in pl.) a large-scale exercise of
troops, warships, etc. 3 a an often deceptive planned or
controlled action designed to gain an objective. b a skilful
plan. --v. 1 intr. & tr. perform or cause to perform a
manoeuvre (manoeuvred the car into the space). 2 intr. & tr.
perform or cause (troops etc.) to perform military manoeuvres.
3 a tr. (usu. foll. by into, out, away) force, drive, or
manipulate (a person, thing, etc.) by scheming or adroitness. b
intr. use artifice. ЬЬmanoeuvrable adj. manoeuvrability n.
manoeuvrer n. [F manoeuvre, manoeuvrer f. med.L manuoperare f.
L manus hand + operari to work]
manometer n. a pressure gauge for gases and liquids. ЬЬmanometric adj.
[F manomЉtre f. Gk manos thin]
ma non troppo
manor n. 1 (also manor-house) a a large country house with lands. b
the house of the lord of the manor. 2 Brit. a a unit of land
consisting of a lord's demesne and lands rented to tenants etc.
b hist. a feudal lordship over lands. 3 Brit. colloq. the
district covered by a police station. ЬЬmanorial adj. [ME f.
AF maner, OF maneir, f. L manere remain]
manpower n. 1 the power generated by a man working. 2 the number of
people available for work, service, etc.
manqu‚ adj. (placed after noun) that might have been but is not;
unfulfilled (a comic actor manqu‚). [F, past part. of manquer
mansard n. a roof which has four sloping sides, each of which becomes
steeper halfway down. [F mansarde f. F. Mansard, Fr. architect
manse n. the house of a minister, esp. a Scottish Presbyterian. Ьson
(or daughter) of the manse the child of a Presbyterian etc.
minister. [ME f. med.L mansus, -sa, -sum, house f. manere
n. (pl. menservants) a male servant.
-manship suffix forming nouns denoting skill in a subject or activity
mansion n. 1 a large house. 2 (usu. in pl.) Brit. a large building
divided into flats. Ьmansion-house Brit. the house of a lord
mayor or a landed proprietor. the Mansion House the official
residence of the Lord Mayor of London. [ME f. OF f. L mansio
-onis a staying (as MANSE)]
n. 1 the killing of a human being. 2 Law the unlawful killing
of a human being without malice aforethought.
n. archaic meekness, docility, gentleness. [ME f. OF
mansuetude or L mansuetudo f. mansuetus gentle, tame f. manus
hand + suetus accustomed]
manta n. any large ray of the family Mobulidae, esp. Manta
birostris, having winglike pectoral fins and a whiplike tail.
[Amer. Sp., = large blanket]
mantel n. 1 = MANTELPIECE 1. 2 = MANTELSHELF. [var. of MANTLE]
mantelet n. (also mantlet) 1 hist. a woman's short loose sleeveless
mantle. 2 a bulletproof screen for gunners. [ME f. OF, dimin.
of mantel MANTLE]
n. 1 a structure of wood, marble, etc. above and around a
fireplace. 2 = MANTELSHELF.
n. a shelf above a fireplace.
mantic adj. formal of or concerning divination or prophecy. [Gk
mantikos f. mantis prophet]
mantid n. = MANTIS.
mantilla n. a lace scarf worn by Spanish women over the hair and
shoulders. [Sp., dimin. of manta MANTLE]
mantis n. (pl. same or mantises) any insect of the family Mantidae,
feeding on other insects etc. Ьpraying mantis a mantis, Mantis
religiosa, that holds its forelegs in a position suggestive of
hands folded in prayer, while waiting to pounce on its prey.
[Gk, = prophet]
mantissa n. the part of a logarithm after the decimal point. [L, =
mantle n. & v. --n. 1 a loose sleeveless cloak, esp. of a woman. 2 a
covering (a mantle of snow). 3 a spiritual influence or
authority (see 2 Kings 2:13). 4 a fragile lacelike tube fixed
round a gas-jet to give an incandescent light. 5 an outer fold
of skin enclosing a mollusc's viscera. 6 a bird's back,
scapulars, and wing-coverts, esp. if of a distinctive colour. 7
the region between the crust and the core of the earth. --v. 1
tr. clothe in or as if in a mantle; cover, conceal, envelop. 2
intr. a (of the blood) suffuse the cheeks. b (of the face)
glow with a blush. 3 intr. (of a liquid) become covered with a
coating or scum. [ME f. OF f. L mantellum cloak]
mantlet var. of MANTELET.
mantling n. Heraldry 1 ornamental drapery etc. behind and around a
shield. 2 a representation of this. [MANTLE + ING(1)]
mantra n. 1 a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in
meditation, orig. in Hinduism and Buddhism. 2 a Vedic hymn.
[Skr., = instrument of thought f. man think]
mantrap n. a trap for catching poachers, trespassers, etc.
mantua n. hist. a woman's loose gown of the 17th-18th c. [corrupt.
of manteau (F, as MANTLE) after Mantua in Italy]
manual adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or done with the hands (manual labour).
2 (of a machine etc.) worked by hand, not automatically. --n.
1 a a book of instructions, esp. for operating a machine or
learning a subject; a handbook (a computer manual). b any small
book. 2 an organ keyboard played with the hands not the feet.
3 Mil. an exercise in handling a rifle etc. 4 hist. a book of
the forms to be used by priests in the administration of the
Sacraments. Ьmanual alphabet sign language. ЬЬmanually adv.
[ME f. OF manuel, f. (and later assim. to) L manualis f. manus
n. (pl. -ies) archaic = FACTORY. [MANUFACTURE, after factory]
n. & v. --n. 1 a the making of articles esp. in a factory etc.
b a branch of an industry (woollen manufacture). 2 esp. derog.
the merely mechanical production of literature, art, etc.
--v.tr. 1 make (articles), esp. on an industrial scale. 2
invent or fabricate (evidence, a story, etc.). 3 esp. derog.
make or produce (literature, art, etc.) in a mechanical way.
ЬЬmanufacturable adj. manufacturability n. manufacturer n. [F
f. It. manifattura & L manufactum made by hand]
manuka n. Austral. & NZ a small tree, Leptospermum scoparium, with
aromatic leaves and hard timber. [Maori]
manumit v.tr. (manumitted, manumitting) hist. set (a slave) free.
ЬЬmanumission n. [ME f. L manumittere manumiss- f. manus hand
+ emittere send forth]
manure n. & v. --n. 1 animal dung, esp. of horses, used for
fertilizing land. 2 any compost or artificial fertilizer.
--v.tr. (also absol.) apply manure to (land etc.). ЬЬmanurial
adj. [ME f. AF mainoverer = OF manouvrer MANOEUVRE]
n. & adj. --n. 1 a book, document, etc. written by hand. 2 an
author's handwritten or typed text, submitted for publication.
3 handwritten form (produced in manuscript). --adj. written by
hand. [med.L manuscriptus f. manu by hand + scriptus past
part. of scribere write]
Manx adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to the Isle of Man. --n. 1
Language hist. the now extinct Celtic language formerly spoken
in the Isle of Man. 2 (prec. by the; treated as pl.) the Manx
people. ЬManx cat a tailless cat. [ON f. OIr. Manu Isle of
Manxman n. (pl. -men; fem. Manxwoman, pl. -women) a native of the
Isle of Man.
many adj. & n. --adj. (more; most) great in number; numerous (many
times; many people; many a person; his reasons were many). --n.
(as pl.) 1 a large number (many like skiing; many went). 2
(prec. by the) the multitude of esp. working people. Ьas many
the same number of (six mistakes in as many lines). as many
again the same number additionally (sixty here and as many again
there). be too (or one too) many for outwit, baffle. a good
(or great) many a large number. many-sided having many sides,
aspects, interests, capabilities, etc. many-sidedness n. the
fact or state of being many-sided. many's the time often
(many's the time we saw it). many a time many times. [OE
manig, ult. f. Gmc]
n. a pale very dry Spanish sherry. [Sp., lit. 'camomile']
manzanita n. any of several evergreen shrubs of the genus Arctostaphylos,
esp. A. manzanita, native to California. [Sp., dimin. of
Maoism n. the Communist doctrines of Mao Zedong (d. 1976), Chinese
statesman. ЬЬMaoist n. & adj.
Maori n. & adj. --n. (pl. same or Maoris) 1 a member of the
Polynesian aboriginal people of New Zealand. 2 the language of
the Maori. --adj. of or concerning the Maori or their language.
map n. & v. --n. 1 a a usu. flat representation of the earth's
surface, or part of it, showing physical features, cities, etc.
(cf. GLOBE). b a diagrammatic representation of a route etc.
(drew a map of the journey). 2 a two-dimensional representation
of the stars, the heavens, etc., or of the surface of a planet,
the moon, etc. 3 a diagram showing the arrangement or
components of a thing. 4 sl. the face. --v.tr. (mapped,
mapping) 1 represent (a country etc.) on a map. 2 Math.
associate each element of (a set) with one element of another
set. Ьmap out arrange in detail; plan (a course of conduct
etc.). off the map colloq. 1 of no account; obsolete. 2 very
distant. on the map colloq. prominent, important. wipe off
the map colloq. obliterate. ЬЬmapless adj. mappable adj.
mapper n. [L mappa napkin: in med.L mappa (mundi) map (of the
maple n. 1 any tree or shrub of the genus Acer grown for shade,
ornament, wood, or its sugar. 2 the wood of the maple.
Ьmaple-leaf the leaf of the maple, used as an emblem of Canada.
maple sugar a sugar produced by evaporating the sap of the sugar
maple etc. maple syrup a syrup produced from the sap of the
sugar maple etc. [ME mapul etc. f. OE mapeltreow, mapulder]
maquette n. 1 a sculptor's small preliminary model in wax, clay, etc. 2
a preliminary sketch. [F f. It. machietta dimin. of macchia
n. 1 make-up; cosmetics. 2 the application of make-up. [F f.
maquiller make up f. OF masquiller stain]
Maquis n. 1 the French resistance movement during the German
occupation (1940-45). 2 a member of this. [F, = brushwood, f.
Corsican It. macchia thicket]
Mar. abbr. March.
mar v.tr. (marred, marring) 1 ruin. 2 impair the perfection of;
spoil; disfigure. [OE merran hinder]
marabou n. (also marabout) 1 a large W. African stork, Leptoptilos
crumeniferus. 2 a tuft of down from the wing or tail of the
marabou used as a trimming for hats etc. [F f. Arab. murabit
holy man (see MARABOUT), the stork being regarded as holy]
marabout n. 1 a Muslim hermit or monk, esp. in N. Africa. 2 a shrine
marking a marabout's burial-place. [F f. Port. marabuto f.
Arab. murabit holy man f. ribat frontier station, where he
acquired merit by combat against the infidel]
maraca n. a hollow clublike gourd or gourd-shaped container filled
with beans etc. and usu. shaken in pairs as a percussion
instrument in Latin American music. [Port. marac , prob. f.
n. (pl. -os) a strong sweet liqueur made from a small black
Dalmatian cherry. Ьmaraschino cherry a cherry preserved in
maraschino and used to decorate cocktails etc. [It. f. marasca
small black cherry, for amarasca f. amaro bitter f. L amarus]
marasmus n. a wasting away of the body. ЬЬmarasmic adj. [mod.L f. Gk
marasmos f. maraino wither]
Maratha n. (also Mahratta) a member of a warrior people native to the
modern Indian State of Maharashtra. [Hindi Marhatta f. Skr.
Maharashtra great kingdom]
Marathi n. (also Mahratti) the language of the Marathas. [MARATHA]
marathon n. 1 a long-distance running race, usu. of 26 miles 385 yards
(42.195 km). 2 a long-lasting or difficult task, operation,
etc. (often attrib.: a marathon shopping expedition).
ЬЬmarathoner n. [Marathon in Greece, scene of a victory over
the Persians in 490 BC: a messenger was said to have run to
Athens with the news, but the account has no authority]
maraud v. 1 intr. a make a plundering raid. b pilfer systematically;
plunder. 2 tr. plunder (a place). ЬЬmarauder n. [F marauder
f. maraud rogue]
marble n. & v. --n. 1 limestone in a metamorphic crystalline (or
granular) state, and capable of taking a polish, used in
sculpture and architecture. 2 (often attrib.) a anything made
of marble (a marble clock). b anything resembling marble in
hardness, coldness, durability, etc. (her features were marble).
3 a a small ball of marble, glass, clay, etc., used as a toy. b
(in pl.; treated as sing.) a game using these. 4 (in pl.) sl.
one's mental faculties (he's lost his marbles). 5 (in pl.) a
collection of sculptures (Elgin Marbles). --v.tr. 1 (esp. as
marbled adj.) stain or colour (paper, the edges of a book, soap,
etc.) to look like variegated marble. 2 (as marbled adj.) (of
meat) streaked with alternating layers of lean and fat. Ьmarble
cake a cake with a mottled appearance, made of light and dark
sponge. ЬЬmarbly adj. [ME f. OF marbre, marble, f. L marmor f.
Gk marmaros shining stone]
marbling n. 1 colouring or marking like marble. 2 streaks of fat in
marc n. 1 the refuse of pressed grapes etc. 2 a brandy made from
this. [F f. marcher tread, MARCH(1)]
Marcan adj. of or relating to St Mark. [L Marcus Mark]
marcasite n. 1 a yellowish crystalline iron sulphide mineral. 2 these
bronze-yellow crystals used in jewellery. [ME f. med.L
marcasita, f. Arab. markasita f. Pers.]
marcato adv. & adj. Mus. played with emphasis. [It., = marked]
marcel n. & v. --n. (in full marcel wave) a deep wave in the hair.
--v.tr. (marcelled, marcelling) wave (hair) with a deep wave.
[Marcel Grateau, Paris hairdresser d. 1936, who invented the
adj. (of part of a plant) withering but not falling.
ЬЬmarcescence n. [L marcescere incept. of marcere wither]
March n. the third month of the year. ЬMarch hare a hare in the
breeding season, characterized by excessive leaping, strange
behaviour, etc. (mad as a March hare). [ME f. OF march(e),
dial. var. of marz, mars, f. L Martius (mensis) (month) of Mars]
march(1) v. & n. --v. 1 intr. (usu. foll. by away, off, out, etc.) walk
in a military manner with a regular measured tread. 2 tr.
(often foll. by away, on, off, etc.) cause to march or walk
(marched the army to Moscow; marched him out of the room). 3
intr. a walk or proceed steadily, esp. across country. b (of
events etc.) continue unrelentingly (time marches on). 4 intr.
take part in a protest march. --n. 1 a the act or an instance
of marching. b the uniform step of troops etc. (a slow march).
2 a long difficult walk. 3 a procession as a protest or
demonstration. 4 (usu. foll. by of) progress or continuity (the
march of events). 5 a a piece of music composed to accompany a
march. b a composition of similar character and form.
Ьmarching order Mil. equipment or a formation for marching.
marching orders 1 Mil. the direction for troops to depart for
war etc. 2 a dismissal (gave him his marching orders). march
on 1 advance towards (a military objective). 2 proceed. march
past n. the marching of troops past a saluting-point at a
review. --v.intr. (of troops) carry out a march past. on the
march 1 marching. 2 in steady progress. ЬЬmarcher n. [F
marche (n.), marcher (v.), f. LL marcus hammer]
march(2) n. & v. --n. hist. 1 (usu. in pl.) a boundary, a frontier
(esp. of the borderland between England and Scotland or Wales).
2 a tract of often disputed land between two countries.
--v.intr. (foll. by upon, with) (of a country, an estate, etc.)
have a common frontier with, border on. [ME f. OF marche,
marchir ult. f. Gmc: cf. MARK(1)]
marcher n. an inhabitant of a march or border district.
n. 1 the wife or widow of a marquess. 2 a woman holding the
rank of marquess in her own right (cf. MARQUISE). [med.L
marchionissa f. marchio -onis captain of the marches (as
marchpane archaic var. of MARZIPAN.
n. 1 a Shrove Tuesday in some Catholic countries. b
merrymaking on this day. 2 the last day of a carnival etc. 3
Austral. a carnival or fair at any time. [F, = fat Tuesday]
mardy adj. dial. sulky, whining, spoilt. [dial. mard spoilt, alt.
of marred f. MAR]
mare(1) n. 1 the female of any equine animal, esp. the horse. 2 sl.
derog. a woman. Ьmare's nest an illusory discovery. mare's
tail 1 a tall slender marsh plant, Hippuris vulgaris. 2 (in
pl.) long straight streaks of cirrus cloud. [ME f. OE mearh
horse f. Gmc: cf. MARSHAL]
mare(2) n. (pl. maria or mares) 1 (in full mare clausum) Law the sea
under the jurisdiction of a particular country. 2 (in full mare
liberum) Law the sea open to all nations. 3 a any of a number
of large dark flat areas on the surface of the moon, once
thought to be seas. b a similar area on Mars. [L, = sea]
maremma n. (pl. maremme) low marshy unhealthy land near a seashore.
[It. f. L maritima (as MARITIME)]
margarine n. a butter-substitute made from vegetable oils or animal fats
with milk etc. [F, misapplication of a chem. term, f.
margarique f. Gk margaron pearl]
margay n. a small wild S. American cat, Felis wiedii. [F f. Tupi
marge(1) n. Brit. colloq. margarine. [abbr.]
marge(2) n. poet. a margin or edge. [F f. L margo (as MARGIN)]
margin n. & v. --n. 1 the edge or border of a surface. 2 a the blank
border on each side of the print on a page etc. b a line ruled
esp. on exercise paper, marking off a margin. 3 an amount (of
time, money, etc.) by which a thing exceeds, falls short, etc.
(won by a narrow margin; a margin of profit). 4 the lower limit
of possibility, success, etc. (his effort fell below the
margin). 5 Austral. an increment to a basic wage, paid for
skill. 6 a sum deposited with a stockbroker to cover the risk
of loss on a transaction on account. --v.tr. (margined,
margining) provide with a margin or marginal notes. Ьmargin of
error a usu. small difference allowed for miscalculation, change
of circumstances, etc. margin release a device on a typewriter
allowing a word to be typed beyond the margin normally set. [ME
f. L margo -ginis]
marginal adj. 1 a of or written in a margin. b having marginal notes.
2 a of or at the edge; not central. b not significant or
decisive (the work is of merely marginal interest). 3 Brit. (of
a parliamentary seat or constituency) having a small majority at
risk in an election. 4 close to the limit, esp. of
profitability. 5 (of the sea) adjacent to the shore of a State.
6 (of land) difficult to cultivate; unprofitable. 7 barely
adequate; unprovided for. Ьmarginal cost the cost added by
making one extra copy etc. ЬЬmarginality n. marginally adv.
[med.L marginalis (as MARGIN)]
n.pl. marginal notes. [med.L, neut. pl. of marginalis]
v.tr. (also -ise) make or treat as insignificant.
marginate v. & adj. --v.tr. 1 = MARGINALIZE. 2 provide with a margin or
border. --adj. Biol. having a distinct margin or border.
margrave n. hist. the hereditary title of some princes of the Holy
Roman Empire (orig. of a military governor of a border
province). ЬЬmargravate n. [MDu. markgrave border count (as
MARK(1), grave COUNT(2) f. OLG greve)]
n. hist. the wife of a margrave. [Du. markgravin (as
n. an ox-eye daisy. [F f. L margarita f. Gk margarites f.
maria pl. of MARE(2).
mariage de convenance
n. = marriage of convenience. [F]
Marian adj. RC Ch. of or relating to the Virgin Mary (Marian
vespers). [L Maria Mary]
marigold n. any plant of the genus Calendula or Tagetes, with golden or
bright yellow flowers. [ME f. Mary (prob. the Virgin) + dial.
gold, OE golde, prob. rel. to GOLD]
marijuana n. (also marihuana) 1 the dried leaves, flowering tops, and
stems of the hemp, used as a hallucinogenic drug usu. smoked in
cigarettes. 2 the plant yielding these (cf. HEMP). [Amer.
marimba n. 1 a xylophone played by natives of Africa and Central
America. 2 a modern orchestral instrument derived from this.
marina n. a specially designed harbour with moorings for
pleasure-yachts etc. [It. & Sp. fem. adj. f. marino f. L (as
marinade n. & v. --n. 1 a mixture of wine, vinegar, oil, spices, etc.,
in which meat, fish, etc., is soaked before cooking. 2 meat,
fish, etc., soaked in this liquid. --v.tr. soak (meat, fish,
etc.) in a marinade. [F f. Sp. marinada f. marinar pickle in
brine f. marino (as MARINE)]
marinate v.tr. = MARINADE. ЬЬmarination n. [It. marinare or F mariner
marine adj. & n. --adj. 1 of, found in, or produced by the sea. 2 a
of or relating to shipping or naval matters (marine insurance).
b for use at sea. --n. 1 a country's shipping, fleet, or navy
(mercantile marine; merchant marine). 2 a member of a body of
troops trained to serve on land or sea. 3 a picture of a scene
at sea. Ьmarine stores new or old ships' material etc. sold as
merchandise. marine trumpet a large single-stringed viol with a
trumpet-like tone. tell that to the marines (or horse marines)
colloq. an expression of disbelief. [ME f. OF marin marine f.
L marinus f. mare sea]
mariner n. a seaman. Ьmariner's compass a compass showing magnetic or
true north and the bearings from it. [ME f. AF mariner, OF
marinier f. med.L marinarius f. L (as MARINE)]
n. derog. idolatrous worship of the Virgin Mary. [L Maria
Mary + -LATRY, after idolatry]
n. a puppet worked by strings. [F marionnette f. Marion
dimin. of Marie Mary]
Marist n. a member of the Roman Catholic Society of Mary. [F Mariste
f. Marie Mary]
marital adj. 1 of marriage or the relations between husband and wife.
2 of or relating to a husband. ЬЬmaritally adv. [L maritalis
f. maritus husband]
maritime adj. 1 connected with the sea or seafaring (maritime
insurance). 2 living or found near the sea. [L maritimus f.
marjoram n. either of two aromatic herbs, Origanum vulgare (wild
marjoram) or Majorana hortensis (sweet marjoram), the fresh or
dried leaves of which are used as a flavouring in cookery. [ME
& OF majorane f. med.L majorana, of unkn. orig.]
mark(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a trace, sign, stain, scar, etc., on a surface,
face, page, etc. 2 (esp. in comb.) a a written or printed
symbol (exclamation mark; question mark). b a numerical or
alphabetical award denoting excellence, conduct, proficiency,
etc. (got a good mark for effort; gave him a black mark; gained
46 marks out of 50). 3 (usu. foll. by of) a sign or indication
of quality, character, feeling, etc. (took off his hat as a mark
of respect). 4 a a sign, seal, etc., used for distinction or
identification. b a cross etc. made in place of a signature by
an illiterate person. 5 a a target, object, goal, etc. (missed
the mark with his first play). b a standard for attainment (his
work falls below the mark). 6 a line etc. indicating a
position; a marker. 7 (usu. Mark) (followed by a numeral) a
particular design, model, etc., of a car, aircraft, etc. (this
is the Mark 2 model). 8 a runner's starting-point in a race. 9
Naut. a piece of material etc. used to indicate a position on a
sounding-line. 10 a Rugby Football a heel-mark on the ground
made by a player who has caught the ball direct from a kick,
knock-on, or throw-forward by an opponent. b Austral. Rules the
catching before it reaches the ground of a ball kicked at least
ten metres; the spot from which the subsequent kick is taken.
11 sl. the intended victim of a swindler etc. 12 Boxing the pit
of the stomach. 13 hist. a tract of land held in common by a
Teutonic or medieval German village community. --v.tr. 1 a
make a mark on (a thing or person), esp. by writing, cutting,
scraping, etc. b put a distinguishing or identifying mark,
initials, name, etc., on (clothes etc.) (marked the tree with
their initials). 2 a allot marks to; correct (a student's work
etc.). b record (the points gained in games etc.). 3 attach a
price to (goods etc.) (marked the doll at 50p). 4 (often foll.
by by) show or manifest (displeasure etc.) (marked his anger by
leaving early). 5 notice or observe (she marked his agitation).
6 a characterize or be a feature of (the day was marked by
storms). b acknowledge, recognize, celebrate (marked the
occasion with a toast). 7 name or indicate (a place on a map,
the length of a syllable, etc.) by a sign or mark. 8
characterize (a person or a thing) as (marked them as weak). 9
a Brit. keep close to so as to prevent the free movement of (an
opponent in sport). b Austral. Rules catch (the ball). 10 (as
marked adj.) having natural marks (is marked with silver spots).
11 (of a graduated instrument) show, register (so many degrees
etc.). 12 US & Austral. castrate (a lamb). Ьone's mark colloq.
1 what one prefers. 2 an opponent, object, etc., of one's own
size, calibre, etc. (the little one's more my mark). beside
(or off or wide of) the mark 1 not to the point; irrelevant. 2
not accurate. make one's mark attain distinction. mark down 1
mark (goods etc.) at a lower price. 2 make a written note of.
3 choose (a person) as one's victim. mark-down n. a reduction
in price. mark off (often foll. by from) separate (one thing
from another) by a boundary etc. (marked off the subjects for
discussion). mark of mouth a depression in a horse's incisor
indicating age. mark out 1 plan (a course of action etc.). 2
destine (marked out for success). 3 trace out boundaries, a
course, etc. mark time 1 Mil. march on the spot, without moving
forward. 2 act routinely; go through the motions. 3 await an
opportunity to advance. mark up 1 mark (goods etc.) at a higher
price. 2 mark or correct (text etc.) for typesetting or
alteration. mark-up n. 1 the amount added to the cost price of
goods to cover overhead charges, profit, etc. 2 the corrections
made in marking up text. mark you please note (without
obligation, mark you). off the mark 1 having made a start. 2 =
beside the mark. of mark noteworthy. on the mark ready to
start. on your mark (or marks) (as an instruction) get ready to
start (esp. a race). up to the mark reaching the usual or
normal standard, esp. of health. [OE me(a)rc (n.), mearcian
(v.), f. Gmc]
mark(2) n. 1 a = DEUTSCHE MARK. b = OSTMARK. 2 hist. a a
denomination of weight for gold and silver. b English money of
account. [OE marc, prob. rel. to med.L marca, marcus]
marked adj. 1 having a visible mark. 2 clearly noticeable; evident (a
marked difference). 3 (of playing-cards) having distinctive
marks on their backs to assist cheating. Ьmarked man 1 a person
whose conduct is watched with suspicion or hostility. 2 a
person destined to succeed. ЬЬmarkedly adv. markedness n. [OE
(past part. of MARK(1))]
marker n. 1 a stone, post, etc., used to mark a position, place
reached, etc. 2 a person or thing that marks. 3 a felt-tipped
pen with a broad tip. 4 a person who records a score, esp. in
billiards. 5 a flare etc. used to direct a pilot to a target.
6 a bookmark. 7 US sl. a promissory note; an IOU.
market n. & v. --n. 1 a the gathering of people for the purchase and
sale of provisions, livestock, etc., esp. with a number of
different vendors. b the time of this. 2 an open space or
covered building used for this. 3 (often foll. by for) a demand
for a commodity or service (goods find a ready market). 4 a
place or group providing such a demand. 5 conditions as
regards, or opportunity for, buying or selling. 6 the rate of
purchase and sale, market value (the market fell). 7 (prec. by
the) the trade in a specified commodity (the corn market). 8
(the Market) Brit. the European Economic Community. --v.
(marketed, marketing) 1 tr. sell. 2 tr. offer for sale. 3
intr. buy or sell goods in a market. Ьbe in the market for wish
to buy. be on (or come into) the market be offered for sale.
make a market Stock Exch. induce active dealing in a stock or
shares. market cross a structure erected in a market-place,
orig. a stone cross, later an arcaded building. market-day a
day on which a market is regularly held, usu. weekly. market
garden a place where vegetables and fruit are grown for the
market etc. market gardener a person who owns or is employed in
a market garden. market maker Brit. a member of the Stock
Exchange granted certain privileges and trading to prescribed
regulations. market-place 1 an open space where a market is
held in a town. 2 the scene of actual dealings. market price
the price in current dealings. market research the study of
consumers' needs and preferences. market town Brit. a town
where a market is held. market value value as a saleable thing
(opp. book value). put on the market offer for sale.
ЬЬmarketer n. marketing n. [ME ult. f. L mercatus f. mercari
buy: see MERCHANT]
adj. able or fit to be sold. ЬЬmarketability n.
marketeer n. 1 a supporter of the EEC and British membership of it. 2 a
markhor n. a large spiral-horned wild goat, Capra falconeri, of N.
India. [Pers. mar-kwar f. mar serpent + kwar -eating]
marking n. (usu. in pl.) 1 an identification mark, esp. a symbol on an
aircraft. 2 the colouring of an animal's fur, feathers, skin,
etc. Ьmarking-ink indelible ink for marking linen etc.
marksman n. (pl. -men) a person skilled in shooting, esp. with a pistol
or rifle. ЬЬmarksmanship n.
marl(1) n. & v. --n. soil consisting of clay and lime, with fertilizing
properties. --v.tr. apply marl to (the ground). ЬЬmarly adj.
[ME f. OF marle f. med.L margila f. L marga]
marl(2) n. 1 a mottled yarn of differently coloured threads. 2 the
fabric made from this. [shortening of marbled: see MARBLE]
marlin n. US any of various large long-nosed marine fish of the family
Istophoridae, esp. the blue marlin Makaira nigricans.
[MARLINSPIKE, with ref. to its pointed snout]
marline n. Naut. a thin line of two strands. Ьmarline-spike =
MARLINSPIKE. [ME f. Du. marlijn f. marren bind + lijn
n. Naut. a pointed iron tool used to separate strands of rope
or wire. [orig. app. marling-spike f. marl fasten with
marline (f. Du. marlen frequent. of MDu. marren bind) +
-ING(1) + SPIKE(1)]
marlite n. a kind of marl that is not reduced to powder by the action
of the air.
marmalade n. a preserve of citrus fruit, usu. bitter oranges, made like
jam. Ьmarmalade cat a cat with orange fur. [F marmelade f.
Port. marmelada quince jam f. marmelo quince f. L melimelum f.
Gk melimelon f. meli honey + melon apple]
Marmite n. 1 Brit. propr. a preparation made from yeast extract and
vegetable extract, used in sandwiches and for flavouring. 2
(marmite) also an earthenware cooking vessel. [F, =
marmoreal adj. poet. of or like marble. ЬЬmarmoreally adv. [L
marmoreus (as MARBLE)]
marmoset n. any of several small tropical American monkeys of the family
Callitricidae, having a long bushy tail. [OF marmouset
grotesque image, of unkn. orig.]
marmot n. any burrowing rodent of the genus Marmota, with a heavy-set
body and short bushy tail. [F marmotte prob. f. Romansh murmont
f. L murem (nominative mus) montis mountain mouse]
marocain n. a dress-fabric of ribbed cr€pe. [F, = Moroccan f. Maroc
Maronite n. a member of a sect of Syrian Christians dwelling chiefly in
Lebanon. [med.L Maronita f. Maro the 5th-c. Syrian founder]
maroon(1) adj. & n. --adj. brownish-crimson. --n. 1 this colour. 2 an
explosive device giving a loud report. [F marron chestnut f.
It. marrone f. med.Gk maraon]
maroon(2) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 leave (a person) isolated in a desolate
place (esp. an island). 2 (of a person or a natural phenomenon)
cause (a person) to be unable to leave a place. --n. 1 a
person descended from a group of fugitive slaves in the remoter
parts of Surinam and the W. Indies. 2 a marooned person. [F
marron f. Sp. cimarrўn wild f. cima peak]
marque(1) n. a make of motor car, as distinct from a specific model (the
Jaguar marque). [F, = MARK(1)]
marque(2) n. hist. Ьletters of marque (or marque and reprisal) 1 a
licence to fit out an armed vessel and employ it in the capture
of an enemy's merchant shipping. 2 (in sing.) a ship carrying
such a licence. [ME f. F f. Prov. marca f. marcar seize as a
marquee n. 1 a large tent used for social or commercial functions. 2
US a canopy over the entrance to a large building. [MARQUISE,
taken as pl. & assim. to -EE]
marquess n. a British nobleman ranking between a duke and an earl (cf.
MARQUIS). ЬЬmarquessate n. [var. of MARQUIS]
marquetry n. (also marqueterie) inlaid work in wood, ivory, etc. [F
marqueterie f. marqueter variegate f. MARQUE(1)]
marquis n. a foreign nobleman ranking between a duke and a count (cf.
MARQUESS). ЬЬmarquisate n. [ME f. OF marchis f. Rmc (as
marquise n. 1 a the wife or widow of a marquis. b a woman holding the
rank of marquis in her own right (cf. MARCHIONESS). 2 a
finger-ring set with an oval pointed cluster of gems. 3 archaic
= MARQUEE. [F, fem. of MARQUIS]
n. a fine light cotton, rayon, or silk fabric for net curtains
etc. [F, dimin. of MARQUISE]
marram n. a shore grass, Ammophila arenaria, that binds sand with its
tough rhizomes. [ON mar lmr f. marr sea + h lmr HAULM]
marriage n. 1 the legal union of a man and a woman in order to live
together and often to have children. 2 an act or ceremony
establishing this union. 3 one particular union of this kind
(by a previous marriage). 4 an intimate union (the marriage of
true minds). 5 Cards the union of a king and queen of the same
suit. Ьby marriage as a result of a marriage (related by
marriage). in marriage as husband or wife (give in marriage;
take in marriage). marriage bureau an establishment arranging
introductions between persons wishing to marry. marriage
certificate a certificate certifying the completion of a
marriage ceremony. marriage guidance counselling of couples who
have problems in married life. marriage licence a licence to
marry. marriage lines Brit. a marriage certificate. marriage
of convenience a marriage concluded to achieve some practical
purpose, esp. financial or political. marriage settlement an
arrangement securing property between spouses. [ME f. OF
mariage f. marier MARRY(1)]
adj. 1 fit for marriage, esp. old or rich enough to marry. 2
(of age) fit for marriage. ЬЬmarriageability n.
married adj. & n. --adj. 1 united in marriage. 2 of or relating to
marriage (married name; married life). --n. (usu. in pl.) a
married person (young marrieds).
n. (pl. marrons glac‚s pronunc. same) a chestnut preserved in
and coated with sugar. [F, = iced chestnut: cf. GLACђ]
marrow n. 1 (in full vegetable marrow) a a large usu. white-fleshed
edible gourd used as food. b the plant, Cucurbita pepo,
yielding this. 2 a soft fatty substance in the cavities of
bones, often taken as typifying vitality. 3 the essential part.
Ьto the marrow right through. ЬЬmarrowless adj. marrowy adj.
[OE mearg, m‘rg f. Gmc]
n. a bone containing edible marrow.
marrowfat n. a kind of large pea.
marry(1) v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. a take as one's wife or husband in
marriage. b (often foll. by to) (of a priest etc.) join
(persons) in marriage. c (of a parent or guardian) give (a son,
daughter, etc.) in marriage. 2 intr. a enter into marriage. b
(foll. by into) become a member of (a family) by marriage. 3
tr. a unite intimately. b correlate (things) as a pair. c
Naut. splice (rope-ends) together without increasing their
girth. Ьmarry off find a wife or husband for. [ME f. OF marier
f. L maritare f. maritus husband]
marry(2) int. archaic expressing surprise, asseveration, indignation,
etc. [ME, = (the Virgin) Mary]
marrying adj. likely or inclined to marry (not a marrying man).
Mars n. a reddish planet, fourth in order of distance from the sun
and next beyond the earth. [L Mars Martis the Roman god of war]
Marsala n. a dark sweet fortified dessert wine. [Marsala in Sicily,
where orig. made]
n. the national anthem of France, first sung in Paris by
Marseilles patriots. [F, fem. adj. f. Marseille Marseilles]
marsh n. 1 low land flooded in wet weather and usu. watery at all
times. 2 (attrib.) of or inhabiting marshland. Ьmarsh fever
malaria. marsh gas methane. marsh-harrier a European harrier,
Circus aeruginosus (see HARRIER(3)). marsh mallow a shrubby
herbaceous plant, Althaea officinalis, the roots of which were
formerly used to make marshmallow. marsh marigold a
golden-flowered ranunculaceous plant, Caltha palustris, growing
in moist meadows etc.: also called KINGCUP. marsh tit a grey
tit, Parus palustris, inhabiting marshland. marsh trefoil the
buckbean. ЬЬmarshy adj. (marshier, marshiest). marshiness n.
[OE mer(i)sc f. WG]
marshal n. & v. --n. 1 (Marshal) a a high-ranking officer in the armed
forces (Air Marshal; Field Marshal; Marshal of France). b a
high-ranking officer of state (Earl Marshal). 2 an officer
arranging ceremonies, controlling procedure at races, etc. 3 US
the head of a police or fire department. 4 (in full judge's
marshal) Brit. an official accompanying a judge on circuit, with
secretarial and social duties. --v. (marshalled, marshalling;
US marshaled, marshaling) 1 tr. arrange (soldiers, facts, one's
thoughts, etc.) in due order. 2 tr. (often foll. by into, to)
conduct (a person) ceremoniously. 3 tr. Heraldry combine
(coats of arms). 4 intr. take up positions in due arrangement.
Ьmarshalling yard a railway yard in which goods trains etc. are
assembled. Marshal of the Royal Air Force an officer of the
highest rank in the Royal Air Force. ЬЬmarshaller n.
marshalship n. [ME f. OF mareschal f. LL mariscalcus f. Gmc,
marshland n. land consisting of marshes.
n. a soft sweet made of sugar, albumen, gelatin, etc.
marsupial n. & adj. --n. any mammal of the order Marsupialia,
characterized by being born incompletely developed and usu.
carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother's belly. --adj. 1
of or belonging to this order. 2 of or like a pouch (marsupial
muscle). [mod.L marsupialis f. L marsupium f. Gk marsupion
pouch, dimin. of marsipos purse]
mart n. 1 a trade centre. 2 an auction-room. 3 a a market. b a
market-place. [ME f. obs. Du. mart, var. of markt MARKET]
martagon n. a lily, Lilium martagon, with small purple turban-like
flowers. [F f. Turk. martagan a form of turban]
Martello n. (pl. -os) (also Martello tower) a small circular fort, usu.
on the coast to prevent a hostile landing. [alt. f. Cape
Mortella in Corsica, where such a tower proved difficult to
capture in 1794]
marten n. any weasel-like carnivore of the genus Martes, having
valuable fur. [ME f. MDu. martren f. OF (peau) martrine marten
(fur) f. martre f. WG]
n. the chief constituent of hardened steel. [A. Martens,
German metallurgist d. 1914 + -ITE(1)]
martial adj. 1 of or appropriate to warfare. 2 warlike, brave; fond of
fighting. Ьmartial arts fighting sports such as judo and
karate. martial law military government, involving the
suspension of ordinary law. ЬЬmartially adv. [ME f. OF martial
or L martialis of the Roman god Mars: see MARS]
Martian adj. & n. --adj. of the planet Mars. --n. a hypothetical
inhabitant of Mars. [ME f. OF martien or L Martianus f. Mars:
martin n. any of several swallows of the family Hirundinidae, esp. the
house-martin and sand-martin. [prob. f. St Martin: see
martinet n. a strict (esp. military or naval) disciplinarian.
ЬЬmartinettish adj. (also martinetish). [J. Martinet, 17th-c.
n. 1 a strap, or set of straps, fastened at one end to the
noseband of a horse and at the other end to the girth, to
prevent rearing etc. 2 Naut. a rope for holding down the
jib-boom. 3 a gambling system of continually doubling the
stakes in the hope of an eventual win that must yield a net
profit. [F, of uncert. orig.]
Martini n. 1 propr. a type of vermouth. 2 a cocktail made of gin and
French vermouth, and sometimes orange bitters etc. [Martini &
Rossi, Italian firm selling vermouth]
Martinmas n. St Martin's day, 11 Nov. [ME f. St Martin, bishop of Tours
in the 4th c., + MASS(2)]
martlet n. 1 Heraldry an imaginary footless bird borne as a charge. 2
archaic a a swift. b a house-martin. [F martelet alt. f.
martinet dimin. f. MARTIN]
martyr n. & v. --n. 1 a a person who is put to death for refusing to
renounce a faith or belief. b a person who suffers for adhering
to a principle, cause, etc. 2 (foll. by to) a constant sufferer
from (an ailment). --v.tr. 1 put to death as a martyr. 2
torment. Ьmake a martyr of oneself accept or pretend to accept
unnecessary discomfort etc. [OE martir f. eccl.L martyr f. Gk
martur, martus -uros witness]
martyrdom n. 1 the sufferings and death of a martyr. 2 torment. [OE
martyrdom (as MARTYR, -DOM)]
martyrize v.tr. & refl. (also -ise) make a martyr of. ЬЬmartyrization n.
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a list or register of martyrs. 2 the history
of martyrs. ЬЬmartyrological adj. martyrologist n. [med.L
martyrologium f. eccl.Gk marturologion (as MARTYR, logos
martyry n. (pl. -ies) a shrine or church erected in honour of a
martyr. [ME f. med.L martyrium f. Gk marturion martyrdom (as
marvel n. & v. --n. 1 a wonderful thing. 2 (foll. by of) a wonderful
example of (a quality). --v.intr. (marvelled, marvelling; US
marveled, marveling) literary 1 (foll. by at, or that + clause)
feel surprise or wonder. 2 (foll. by how, why, etc. + clause)
wonder. Ьmarvel of Peru a showy garden plant, Mirabilis jalapa,
with flowers opening in the afternoon. ЬЬmarveller n. [ME f.
OF merveille, merveiller f. LL mirabilia neut. pl. of L
mirabilis f. mirari wonder at: see MIRACLE]
adj. (US marvelous) 1 astonishing. 2 excellent. 3 extremely
improbable. ЬЬmarvellously adv. marvellousness n. [ME f. OF
merveillos f. merveille: see MARVEL]
Marxism n. the political and economic theories of Karl Marx, Ger.
political philosopher (d. 1883), predicting the overthrow of
capitalism and the eventual attainment of a classless society
with the State controlling the means of production.
ЬMarxism-Leninism Marxism as developed by Lenin. ЬЬMarxist n. &
adj. Marxist-Leninist n. & adj.
marzipan n. & v. --n. 1 a paste of ground almonds, sugar, etc., made up
into small cakes etc., or used to coat large cakes. 2 a piece
of marzipan. --v.tr. (marzipanned, marzipanning) cover with or
as with marzipan. [G f. It. marzapane]
Masai n. & adj. --n. (pl. same or Masais) 1 a a pastoral people of
mainly Hamitic stock living in Kenya and Tanzania. b a member
of this people. 2 the Nilotic language of the Masai. --adj. of
or relating to the Masai or their language. [Bantu]
mascara n. a cosmetic for darkening the eyelashes. [It. mascara,
mascle n. Heraldry a lozenge voided, with a central lozenge-shaped
aperture. [ME f. AF f. AL ma(s)cula f. L MACULA]
mascon n. Astron. a concentration of dense matter below the moon's
surface, producing a gravitational pull. [mass concentration]
mascot n. a person, animal, or thing that is supposed to bring good
luck. [F mascotte f. mod. Prov. mascotto fem. dimin. of masco
masculine adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or characteristic of men. 2 manly,
vigorous. 3 (of a woman) having qualities considered
appropriate to a man. 4 Gram. of or denoting the gender proper
to men's names. --n. Gram. the masculine gender; a masculine
word. ЬЬmasculinely adv. masculineness n. masculinity n. [ME
f. OF masculin -ine f. L masculinus (as MALE)]
maser n. a device using the stimulated emission of radiation by
excited atoms to amplify or generate coherent monochromatic
electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range (cf. LASER).
[microwave amplification by the stimulated emission of
mash n. & v. --n. 1 a soft mixture. 2 a mixture of boiled grain,
bran, etc., given warm to horses etc. 3 Brit. colloq. mashed
potatoes (sausage and mash). 4 a mixture of malt and hot water
used to form wort for brewing. 5 a soft pulp made by crushing,
mixing with water, etc. --v.tr. 1 reduce (potatoes etc.) to a
uniform mass by crushing. 2 crush or pound to a pulp. 3 mix
(malt) with hot water to form wort. ЬЬmasher n. [OE masc f.
WG, perh. rel. to MIX]
mashie n. Golf an iron formerly used for lofting or for medium
distances. [perh. f. F massue club]
mask n. & v. --n. 1 a covering for all or part of the face: a worn
as a disguise, or to appear grotesque and amuse or terrify. b
made of wire, gauze, etc., and worn for protection (e.g. by a
fencer) or by a surgeon to prevent infection of a patient. c
worn to conceal the face at balls etc. and usu. made of velvet
or silk. 2 a respirator used to filter inhaled air or to supply
gas for inhalation. 3 a likeness of a person's face, esp. one
made by taking a mould from the face (death-mask). 4 a disguise
or pretence (throw off the mask). 5 a hollow model of a human
head worn by ancient Greek and Roman actors. 6 Photog. a screen
used to exclude part of an image. 7 the face or head of an
animal, esp. a fox. 8 = face-pack. 9 archaic a masked person.
--v.tr. 1 cover (the face etc.) with a mask. 2 disguise or
conceal (a taste, one's feelings, etc.). 3 protect from a
process. 4 Mil. a conceal (a battery etc.) from the enemy's
view. b hinder (an army etc.) from action by observing with
adequate force. c hinder (a friendly force) by standing in its
line of fire. Ьmasking tape adhesive tape used in painting to
cover areas on which paint is not wanted. ЬЬmasker n. [F
masque f. It. maschera f. Arab. maskara buffoon f. sakira to
masked adj. wearing or disguised with a mask. Ьmasked ball a ball at
which masks are worn.
n. a large N. American pike, Esox masquinongy, esp. in the
Great Lakes. [ult. f. Ojibwa, = great fish]
masochism n. 1 a form of (esp. sexual) perversion characterized by
gratification derived from one's own pain or humiliation (cf.
SADISM). 2 colloq. the enjoyment of what appears to be painful
or tiresome. ЬЬmasochist n. masochistic adj. masochistically
adv. [L. von Sacher- Masoch, Austrian novelist d. 1895, who
described cases of it]
mason n. & v. --n. 1 a person who builds with stone. 2 (Mason) a
Freemason. --v.tr. build or strengthen with masonry. Ьmason's
mark a device carved on stone by the mason who dressed it. [ME
f. OF masson, ma‡onner, ONF machun, prob. ult. f. Gmc]
n. (in the US) the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania,
taken as the northern limit of the slave-owning States before
the abolition of slavery. [C. Mason & J. Dixon, 18th-c.
English astronomers who surveyed it]
Masonic adj. of or relating to Freemasons.
masonry n. 1 a the work of a mason. b stonework. 2 (Masonry)
Freemasonry. [ME f. OF ma‡onerie (as MASON)]
Masorah n. (also Massorah) a body of traditional information and
comment on the text of the Hebrew Bible. [Heb. masoret, perh.
Masorete n. (also Massorete) a Jewish scholar contributing to the
Masorah. ЬЬMasoretic adj. [F Massoret & mod.L Massoreta, orig.
a misuse of Heb. (see MASORAH), assim. to -ETE]
masque n. 1 a dramatic and musical entertainment esp. of the 16th and
17th c., orig. of pantomime, later with metrical dialogue. 2 a
dramatic composition for this. ЬЬmasquer n. [var. of MASK]
n. & v. --n. 1 a false show or pretence. 2 a masked ball.
--v.intr. (often foll. by as) appear in disguise, assume a false
appearance. ЬЬmasquerader n. [F mascarade f. Sp. mascarada f.
m scara mask]
Mass. abbr. Massachusetts.
mass(1) n., v., & adj. --n. 1 a coherent body of matter of indefinite
shape. 2 a dense aggregation of objects (a mass of fibres). 3
(in sing. or pl.; foll. by of) a large number or amount. 4
(usu. foll. by of) an unbroken expanse (of colour etc.). 5
(foll. by of) covered or abounding in (was a mass of cuts and
bruises). 6 a main portion (of a painting etc.) as perceived by
the eye. 7 (prec. by the) a the majority. b (in pl.) the
ordinary people. 8 Physics the quantity of matter a body
contains. 9 (attrib.) relating to, done by, or affecting large
numbers of people or things; large-scale (mass audience; mass
action; mass murder). --v.tr. & intr. 1 assemble into a mass
or as one body (massed bands). 2 Mil. (with ref. to troops)
concentrate or be concentrated. Ьcentre of mass a point
representing the mean position of matter in a body or system.
in the mass in the aggregate. law of mass action the principle
that the rate of a chemical reaction is proportional to the
masses of the reacting substances. mass defect the difference
between the mass of an isotope and its mass number. mass energy
a body's ability to do work according to its mass. mass media =
MEDIA(1) 2. mass noun Gram. a noun that is not countable and
cannot be used with the indefinite article or in the plural
(e.g. bread). mass number the total number of protons and
neutrons in a nucleus. mass observation Brit. the study and
recording of the social habits and opinions of ordinary people.
mass-produce produce by mass production. mass production the
production of large quantities of a standardized article by a
standardized mechanical process. mass spectrograph an apparatus
separating isotopes, molecules, and molecular fragments
according to mass by their passage in ionic form through
electric and magnetic fields. mass spectrometer a device
similar to a mass spectrograph but employing electrical
detection. mass spectrum the distribution of ions shown by the
use of a mass spectrograph or mass spectrometer. ЬЬmassless
adj. [ME f. OF masse, masser f. L massa f. Gk maza barley-cake:
perh. rel. to masso knead]
mass(2) n. (often Mass) 1 the Eucharist, esp. in the Roman Catholic
Church. 2 a celebration of this. 3 the liturgy used in the
mass. 4 a musical setting of parts of this. Ьhigh mass mass
with incense, music, and usu. the assistance of a deacon and
subdeacon. low mass mass with no music and a minimum of
ceremony. [OE m‘sse f. eccl.L missa f. L mittere miss- dismiss,
perh. f. the concluding dismissal Ite, missa est Go, it is the
massacre n. & v. --n. 1 a general slaughter (of persons, occasionally
of animals). 2 an utter defeat or destruction. --v.tr. 1 make
a massacre of. 2 murder (esp. a large number of people) cruelly
or violently. [OF, of unkn. orig.]
massage n. & v. --n. 1 the rubbing, kneading, etc., of muscles and
joints of the body with the hands, to stimulate their action,
cure strains, etc. 2 an instance of this. --v.tr. 1 apply
massage to. 2 manipulate (statistics) to give an acceptable
result. Ьmassage parlour 1 an establishment providing massage.
2 euphem. a brothel. ЬЬmassager n. [F f. masser treat with
massage, perh. f. Port. amassar knead, f. massa dough: see
n. a small N. American rattlesnake, Sistrurus catenatus.
[irreg. f. Missisauga River, Ontario]
mass‚ n. Billiards a stroke made with the cue held nearly vertical.
[F, past part. of masser make such a stroke (as MACE(1))]
masseter n. either of two chewing-muscles which run from the temporal
bone to the lower jaw. [Gk maseter f. masaomai chew]
masseur n. (fem. masseuse) a person who provides massage
professionally. [F f. masser: see MASSAGE]
massicot n. yellow lead monoxide, used as a pigment. [F, perh. rel. to
It. marzacotto unguent prob. f. Arab. mashakunya]
massif n. a compact group of mountain heights. [F massif used as
noun: see MASSIVE]
massive adj. 1 large and heavy or solid. 2 (of the features, head,
etc.) relatively large; of solid build. 3 exceptionally large
(took a massive overdose). 4 substantial, impressive (a massive
reputation). 5 Mineral. not visibly crystalline. 6 Geol.
without structural divisions. ЬЬmassively adv. massiveness n.
[ME f. F massif -ive f. OF massiz ult. f. L massa MASS(1)]
Massorah var. of MASORAH.
Massorete var. of MASORETE.
mast(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a long upright post of timber, iron, etc., set
up on a ship's keel, esp. to support sails. 2 a post or
lattice-work upright for supporting a radio or television
aerial. 3 a flag-pole (half-mast). 4 (in full mooring-mast) a
strong steel tower to the top of which an airship can be moored.
--v.tr. furnish (a ship) with masts. Ьbefore the mast serving
as an ordinary seaman (quartered in the forecastle). ЬЬmasted
adj. (also in comb.). master n. (also in comb.). [OE m‘st f.
mast(2) n. the fruit of the beech, oak, chestnut, and other
forest-trees, esp. as food for pigs. [OE m‘st f. WG, prob. rel.
mastaba n. 1 Archaeol. an ancient Egyptian tomb with sloping sides and
a flat roof. 2 a bench, usu. of stone, attached to a house in
Islamic countries. [Arab. mastabah]
n. (pl. -ies) Surgery the amputation of a breast. [Gk mastos
breast + -ECTOMY]
master n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a a person having control of persons or
things. b an employer. c a male head of a household (master of
the house). d the owner of a dog, horse, etc. e the owner of a
slave. f Naut. the captain of a merchant ship. g Hunting the
person in control of a pack of hounds etc. 2 a male teacher or
tutor, esp. a schoolmaster. 3 a the head of a college, school,
etc. b the presiding officer of a livery company, Masonic
lodge, etc. 4 a person who has or gets the upper hand (we shall
see which of us is master). 5 a person skilled in a particular
trade and able to teach others (often attrib.: master
carpenter). 6 a holder of a university degree orig. giving
authority to teach in the university (Master of Arts; Master of
Science). 7 a a revered teacher in philosophy etc. b (the
Master) Christ. 8 a great artist. 9 Chess etc. a player of
proved ability at international level. 10 an original version
(e.g. of a film or gramophone record) from which a series of
copies can be made. 11 (Master) a a title prefixed to the name
of a boy not old enough to be called Mr (Master T. Jones; Master
Tom). b archaic a title for a man of high rank, learning, etc.
12 (in England and Wales) an official of the Supreme Court. 13
a machine or device directly controlling another (cf. SLAVE).
14 (Master) a courtesy title of the eldest son of a Scottish
viscount or baron (the Master of Falkland). --adj. 1
commanding, superior (a master spirit). 2 main, principal
(master bedroom). 3 controlling others (master plan). --v.tr.
1 overcome, defeat. 2 reduce to subjection. 3 acquire complete
knowledge of (a subject) or facility in using (an instrument
etc.). 4 rule as a master. Ьbe master of 1 have at one's
disposal. 2 know how to control. be one's own master be
independent or free to do as one wishes. make oneself master of
acquire a thorough knowledge of or facility in using. Master
Aircrew an RAF rank equivalent to warrant-officer.
master-at-arms (pl. masters-at-arms) the chief police officer
on a man-of-war or a merchant ship. master-class a class given
by a person of distinguished skill, esp. in music. master-hand
1 a person having commanding power or great skill. 2 the action
of such a person. master-key a key that opens several locks,
each of which also has its own key. master mariner 1 the
captain of a merchant ship. 2 a seaman certified competent to
be captain. master mason 1 a skilled mason, or one in business
on his or her own account. 2 a fully qualified Freemason, who
has passed the third degree. Master of Ceremonies see CEREMONY.
Master of the Rolls (in England and Wales) a judge who presides
over the Court of Appeal and was formerly in charge of the
Public Record Office. master-stroke an outstandingly skilful
act of policy etc. master-switch a switch controlling the
supply of electricity etc. to an entire system. master touch a
masterly manner of dealing with something. master-work a
masterpiece. ЬЬmasterdom n. masterhood n. masterless adj.
[OE m‘gester (later also f. OF maistre) f. L magister, prob.
rel. to magis more]
masterful adj. 1 imperious, domineering. 2 masterly. °Normally used of
a person, whereas masterly is used of achievements, abilities,
etc. ЬЬmasterfully adv. masterfulness n.
masterly adj. worthy of a master; very skilful (a masterly piece of
work). ЬЬmasterliness n.
n. & v. --n. 1 a a person with an outstanding intellect. b
such an intellect. 2 the person directing an intricate
operation. --v.tr. plan and direct (a scheme or enterprise).
n. 1 an outstanding piece of artistry or workmanship. 2 a
person's best work.
n. 1 the position or function of a master, esp. a schoolmaster.
2 dominion, control.
n. = MEISTERSINGER.
mastery n. 1 dominion, sway. 2 masterly skill. 3 (often foll. by of)
comprehensive knowledge or use of a subject or instrument. 4
(prec. by the) the upper hand. [ME f. OF maistrie (as MASTER)]
masthead n. & v. --n. 1 the highest part of a ship's mast, esp. that of
a lower mast as a place of observation or punishment. 2 the
title of a newspaper etc. at the head of the front or editorial
page. --v.tr. 1 send (a sailor) to the masthead. 2 raise (a
sail) to its position on the mast.
mastic n. 1 a gum or resin exuded from the bark of the mastic tree,
used in making varnish. 2 (in full mastic tree) the evergreen
tree, Pistacia lentiscus, yielding this. 3 a waterproof filler
and sealant used in building. 4 a liquor flavoured with mastic
gum. [ME f. OF f. LL mastichum f. L mastiche f. Gk mastikhe,
perh. f. mastikhao (see MASTICATE) with ref. to its use as
masticate v.tr. grind or chew (food) with one's teeth. ЬЬmastication n.
masticator n. masticatory adj. [LL masticare masticat- f. Gk
mastikhao gnash the teeth]
mastiff n. 1 a dog of a large strong breed with drooping ears and
pendulous lips. 2 this breed of dog. [ME ult. f. OF mastin
ult. f. L mansuetus tame; see MANSUETUDE]
mastitis n. an inflammation of the mammary gland (the breast or udder).
[Gk mastos breast + -ITIS]
mastodon n. a large extinct mammal of the genus Mammut, resembling the
elephant but having nipple-shaped tubercles on the crowns of its
molar teeth. ЬЬmastodontic adj. [mod.L f. Gk mastos breast +
odous odontos tooth]
mastoid adj. & n. --adj. shaped like a woman's breast. --n. 1 =
mastoid process. 2 colloq. mastoiditis. Ьmastoid process a
conical prominence on the temporal bone behind the ear, to which
muscles are attached. [F masto‹de or mod.L mastoides f. Gk
mastoeides f. mastos breast]
n. inflammation of the mastoid process.
v.intr. & tr. arouse oneself sexually or cause (another person)
to be aroused by manual stimulation of the genitals.
ЬЬmasturbation n. masturbator n. masturbatory adj. [L
mat(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a piece of coarse material for wiping shoes on,
esp. a doormat. 2 a piece of cork, rubber, plastic, etc., to
protect a surface from the heat or moisture of an object placed
on it. 3 a piece of resilient material for landing on in
gymnastics, wrestling, etc. 4 a piece of coarse fabric of
plaited rushes, straw, etc., for lying on, packing furniture,
etc. 5 a small rug. --v. (matted, matting) 1 a tr. (esp. as
matted adj.) entangle in a thick mass (matted hair). b intr.
become matted. 2 tr. cover or furnish with mats. Ьon the mat
sl. being reprimanded (orig. in the army, on the orderly-room
mat before the commanding officer). [OE m(e)att(e) f. WG f. LL
mat(2) var. of MATT.
mat(3) n. = MATRIX 1. [abbr.]
matador n. 1 a bullfighter whose task is to kill the bull. 2 a
principal card in ombre, quadrille, etc. 3 a domino game in
which the piece played must make a total of seven. [Sp. f.
matar kill f. Pers. mat dead]
Mata Hari n. a beautiful and seductive female spy. [name taken by M. G.
Zelle, d. 1917, f. Malay mata eye + hari day]
match(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a contest or game of skill etc. in which
persons or teams compete against each other. 2 a a person able
to contend with another as an equal (meet one's match; be more
than a match for). b a person equal to another in some quality
(we shall never see his match). c a person or thing exactly
like or corresponding to another. 3 a marriage. 4 a person
viewed in regard to his or her eligibility for marriage, esp. as
to rank or fortune (an excellent match). --v. 1 a tr. be equal
to or harmonious with; correspond to in some essential respect
(the curtains match the wallpaper). b intr. (often foll. by
with) correspond; harmonize (his socks do not match; does the
ribbon match with your hat?). 2 tr. (foll. by against, with)
place (a person etc.) in conflict, contest, or competition with
(another). 3 tr. find material etc. that matches (another) (can
you match this silk?). 4 tr. find a person or thing suitable
for another (matching unemployed workers with vacant posts). 5
tr. prove to be a match for. 6 tr. Electronics produce or have
an adjustment of (circuits) such that maximum power is
transmitted between them. 7 tr. (usu. foll. by with) archaic
join (a person) with another in marriage. Ьmake a match bring
about a marriage. match play Golf play in which the score is
reckoned by counting the holes won by each side (cf. stroke
play). match point 1 Tennis etc. a the state of a game when one
side needs only one more point to win the match. b this point.
2 Bridge a unit of scoring in matches and tournaments. to match
corresponding in some essential respect with what has been
mentioned (yellow dress with gloves to match). well-matched fit
to contend with each other, live together, etc., on equal terms.
ЬЬmatchable adj. [OE gem‘cca mate, companion, f. Gmc]
match(2) n. 1 a short thin piece of wood, wax, etc., tipped with a
composition that can be ignited by friction. 2 a piece of wick,
cord, etc., designed to burn at a uniform rate, for firing a
cannon etc. [ME f. OF mesche, meiche, perh. f. L myxa
n. a board with a tongue cut along one edge and a groove along
another, so as to fit with similar boards.
matchbox n. a box for holding matches.
matchet var. of MACHETE.
matchless adj. without an equal, incomparable. ЬЬmatchlessly adv.
matchlock n. hist. 1 an old type of gun with a lock in which a match was
placed for igniting the powder. 2 such a lock.
n. a person fond of scheming to bring about marriages.
n. the stem of a match.
matchwood n. 1 wood suitable for matches. 2 minute splinters. Ьmake
matchwood of smash utterly.
mate(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a friend or fellow worker. 2 colloq. a general
form of address, esp. to another man. 3 a each of a pair, esp.
of birds. b colloq. a partner in marriage. c (in comb.) a
fellow member or joint occupant of (team-mate; room-mate). 4
Naut. an officer on a merchant ship subordinate to the master.
5 an assistant to a skilled worker (plumber's mate). --v.
(often foll. by with) 1 a tr. bring (animals or birds) together
for breeding. b intr. (of animals or birds) come together for
breeding. 2 a tr. join (persons) in marriage. b intr. (of
persons) be joined in marriage. 3 intr. Mech. fit well.
ЬЬmateless adj. [ME f. MLG mate f. gemate messmate f. WG, rel.
mate(2) n. & v.tr. Chess = CHECKMATE. Ьfool's mate a series of moves
in which the first player is mated at the second player's second
move. scholar's mate a series of moves in which the second
player is mated at the first player's fourth move. [ME f. F
mat(er): see CHECKMATE]
mat‚ n. 1 an infusion of the leaves of a S. American shrub, Ilex
paraguayensis. 2 this shrub, or its leaves. 3 a vessel in
which these leaves are infused. [Sp. mate f. Quechua mati]
matelot n. (also matlow, matlo) Brit. sl. a sailor. [F matelot]
matelote n. a dish of fish etc. with a sauce of wine and onions. [F (as
mater n. Brit. sl. mother. °Now only in jocular or affected use.
n. the woman head of a family or household (cf.
PATERFAMILIAS). [L f. mater mother + familia FAMILY]
material n. & adj. --n. 1 the matter from which a thing is made. 2
cloth, fabric. 3 (in pl.) things needed for an activity
(building materials; cleaning materials; writing materials). 4
a person or thing of a specified kind or suitable for a purpose
(officer material). 5 (in sing. or pl.) information etc. to be
used in writing a book etc. (experimental material; materials
for a biography). 6 (in sing. or pl., often foll. by of) the
elements or constituent parts of a substance. --adj. 1 of
matter; corporeal. 2 concerned with bodily comfort etc.
(material well-being). 3 (of conduct, points of view, etc.) not
spiritual. 4 (often foll. by to) important, essential, relevant
(at the material time). 5 concerned with the matter, not the
form, of reasoning. ЬЬmateriality n. [ME f. OF materiel, -al,
f. LL materialis f. L (as MATTER)]
n. 1 a tendency to prefer material possessions and physical
comfort to spiritual values. 2 Philos. a the opinion that
nothing exists but matter and its movements and modifications.
b the doctrine that consciousness and will are wholly due to
material agency. 3 Art a tendency to lay stress on the material
aspect of objects. ЬЬmaterialist n. materialistic adj.
v. (also -ise) 1 intr. become actual fact. 2 a tr. cause (a
spirit) to appear in bodily form. b intr. (of a spirit) appear
in this way. 3 intr. colloq. appear or be present when
expected. 4 tr. represent or express in material form. 5 tr.
make materialistic. ЬЬmaterialization n.
adv. 1 substantially, considerably. 2 in respect of matter.
n. 1 the remedial substances used in the practice of medicine.
2 the study of the origin and properties of these substances.
[mod.L, transl. Gk hule iatrike healing material]
mat‚riel n. available means, esp. materials and equipment in warfare
(opp. PERSONNEL). [F (as MATERIAL)]
maternal adj. 1 of or like a mother. 2 motherly. 3 related through the
mother (maternal uncle). 4 of the mother in pregnancy and
childbirth. ЬЬmaternalism n. maternalistic adj. maternally
adv. [ME f. OF maternel or L maternus f. mater mother]
maternity n. 1 motherhood. 2 motherliness. 3 (attrib.) a for women
during and just after childbirth (maternity hospital; maternity
leave). b suitable for a pregnant woman (maternity dress;
maternity wear). [F maternit‚ f. med.L maternitas -tatis f. L
maternus f. mater mother]
mateship n. Austral. companionship, fellowship.
matey adj. & n. (also maty) --adj. (matier, matiest) (often foll. by
with) sociable; familiar and friendly. --n. Brit. (pl. -eys)
colloq. (usu. as a form of address) mate, companion.
ЬЬmateyness n. (also matiness). matily adv.
math n. US colloq. mathematics (cf. MATHS). [abbr.]
adj. 1 of or relating to mathematics. 2 (of a proof etc.)
rigorously precise. Ьmathematical induction = INDUCTION 3b.
mathematical tables tables of logarithms and trigonometric
values etc. ЬЬmathematically adv. [F math‚matique or L
mathematicus f. Gk mathematikos f. mathema -matos science f.
n.pl. 1 (also treated as sing.) the abstract science of number,
quantity, and space studied in its own right (pure mathematics),
or as applied to other disciplines such as physics, engineering,
etc. (applied mathematics). 2 (as pl.) the use of mathematics
in calculation etc. ЬЬmathematician n. [prob. f. F
math‚matiques pl. f. L mathematica f. Gk mathematika: see
maths n. Brit. colloq. mathematics (cf. MATH). [abbr.]
Matilda n. Austral. sl. a bushman's bundle; a swag. Ьwaltz (or walk)
Matilda carry a swag. [the name Matilda]
matin‚e n. (US matinee) an afternoon performance in the theatre,
cinema, etc. Ьmatin‚e coat (or jacket) a baby's short coat.
matin‚e idol a handsome actor admired chiefly by women. [F, =
what occupies a morning f. matin morning (as MATINS)]
matins n. (also mattins) (as sing or pl.) 1 a a service of morning
prayer in the Church of England. b the office of one of the
canonical hours of prayer, properly a night office, but also
recited with lauds at daybreak or on the previous evening. 2
(also matin) poet. the morning song of birds. [ME f. OF matines
f. eccl.L matutinas, accus. fem. pl. adj. f. L matutinus of the
morning f. Matuta dawn-goddess]
matlo (also matlow) var. of MATELOT.
matrass n. hist. a long-necked glass vessel with a round or oval body,
used for distilling etc. [F matras, of uncert. orig.]
matriarch n. a woman who is the head of a family or tribe. ЬЬmatriarchal
adj. [L mater mother, on the false analogy of PATRIARCH]
n. (pl. -ies) a form of social organization in which the
mother is the head of the family and descent is reckoned through
the female line.
matric n. Brit. colloq. matriculation. [abbr.]
matrices pl. of MATRIX.
matricide n. 1 the killing of one's mother. 2 a person who does this.
ЬЬmatricidal adj. [L matricida, matricidium f. mater matris
v. 1 intr. be enrolled at a college or university. 2 tr. admit
(a student) to membership of a college or university.
ЬЬmatriculatory adj. [med.L matriculare matriculat- enrol f. LL
matricula register, dimin. of L MATRIX]
n. 1 the act or an instance of matriculating. 2 an examination
to qualify for this.
adj. of or based on kinship with the mother or the female line.
ЬЬmatrilineally adv. [L mater matris mother + LINEAL]
adj. of or denoting a custom in marriage where the husband goes
to live with the wife's community. [L mater matris mother +
matrimony n. (pl. -ies) 1 the rite of marriage. 2 the state of being
married. 3 a a card-game. b the combination of king and queen
of trumps in some card-games. ЬЬmatrimonial adj. matrimonially
adv. [ME f. AF matrimonie, OF matremoi(g)ne f. L matrimonium f.
mater matris mother]
matrix n. (pl. matrices or matrixes) 1 a mould in which a thing is
cast or shaped, such as a gramophone record, printing type, etc.
2 a an environment or substance in which a thing is developed.
b a womb. 3 a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, fossils,
etc., are embedded. 4 Math. a rectangular array of elements in
rows and columns that is treated as a single element. 5 Biol.
the substance between cells or in which structures are embedded.
6 Computing a gridlike array of interconnected circuit elements.
Ьmatrix printer = dot matrix printer (see DOT(1)). [L, =
breeding-female, womb, register f. mater matris mother]
matron n. 1 a married woman, esp. a dignified and sober one. 2 a
woman managing the domestic arrangements of a school etc. 3
Brit. a woman in charge of the nursing in a hospital. °Now usu.
called senior nursing officer. Ьmatron of honour a married
woman attending the bride at a wedding. ЬЬmatronhood n. [ME f.
OF matrone f. L matrona f. mater matris mother]
matronly adj. like or characteristic of a matron, esp. in respect of
staidness or portliness.
Matt. abbr. Matthew (esp. in the New Testament).
matt adj., n., & v. (also mat) --adj. (of a colour, surface, etc.)
dull, without lustre. --n. 1 a border of dull gold round a
framed picture. 2 (in full matt paint) paint formulated to give
a dull flat finish (cf. GLOSS(1)). 3 the appearance of
unburnished gold. --v.tr. (matted, matting) 1 make (gilding
etc.) dull. 2 frost (glass). [F mat, mater, identical with mat
matte(1) n. an impure product of the smelting of sulphide ores, esp.
those of copper or nickel. [F]
matte(2) n. Cinematog. a mask to obscure part of an image and allow
another image to be superimposed, giving a combined effect. [F]
matter n. & v. --n. 1 a physical substance in general, as distinct
from mind and spirit. b that which has mass and occupies space.
2 a particular substance (colouring matter). 3 (prec. by the;
often foll. by with) the thing that is amiss (what is the
matter?; there is something the matter with him). 4 material
for thought or expression. 5 a the substance of a book, speech,
etc., as distinct from its manner or form. b Logic the
particular content of a proposition, as distinct from its form.
6 a thing or things of a specified kind (printed matter; reading
matter). 7 an affair or situation being considered, esp. in a
specified way (a serious matter; a matter for concern; the
matter of your overdraft). 8 Physiol. a any substance in or
discharged from the body (faecal matter; grey matter). b pus.
9 (foll. by of, for) what is or may be a good reason for
(complaint, regret, etc.). 10 Printing the body of a printed
work, as type or as printed sheets. --v.intr. 1 (often foll.
by to) be of importance; have significance (it does not matter
to me when it happened). 2 secrete or discharge pus. Ьas a
matter of fact in reality (esp. to correct a falsehood or
misunderstanding). for that matter (or for the matter of that)
1 as far as that is concerned. 2 and indeed also. in the
matter of as regards. a matter of 1 approximately (for a matter
of 40 years). 2 a thing that relates to, depends on, or is
determined by (a matter of habit; only a matter of time before
they agree). a matter of course see COURSE. a matter of fact 1
what belongs to the sphere of fact as distinct from opinion etc.
2 Law the part of a judicial inquiry concerned with the truth of
alleged facts (see also MATTER-OF-FACT). a matter of form a
mere routine. a matter of law Law the part of a judicial
inquiry concerned with the interpretation of the law. a matter
of record see RECORD. no matter 1 (foll. by when, how, etc.)
regardless of (will do it no matter what the consequences). 2
it is of no importance. what is the matter with surely there is
no objection to. what matter? that need not worry us. [ME f.
AF mater(i)e, OF matiere f. L materia timber, substance, subject
adj. (see also MATTER). 1 unimaginative, prosaic. 2
unemotional. ЬЬmatter-of-factly adv. matter-of-factness n.
matting n. 1 fabric of hemp, bast, grass, etc., for mats (coconut
matting). 2 in senses of MAT(1) v.
mattins var. of MATINS.
mattock n. an agricultural tool shaped like a pickaxe, with an adze and
a chisel edge as the ends of the head. [OE mattuc, of unkn.
mattoid n. a person of erratic mind, a mixture of genius and fool.
[It. mattoide f. matto insane]
mattress n. a fabric case stuffed with soft, firm, or springy material,
or a similar case filled with air or water, used on or as a bed.
[ME f. OF materas f. It. materasso f. Arab. almatrah the
place, the cushion f. taraha throw]
maturate v.intr. Med. (of a boil etc.) come to maturation. [L
maturatus (as MATURE v.)]
n. 1 a the act or an instance of maturing; the state of being
matured. b the ripening of fruit. 2 Med. a the formation of
purulent matter. b the causing of this. ЬЬmaturative adj. [ME
f. F maturation or med.L maturatio f. L (as MATURE v.)]
mature adj. & v. --adj. (maturer, maturest) 1 with fully developed
powers of body and mind, adult. 2 complete in natural
development, ripe. 3 (of thought, intentions, etc.) duly
careful and adequate. 4 (of a bill etc.) due for payment. --v.
1 a tr. & intr. develop fully. b tr. & intr. ripen. c intr.
come to maturity. 2 tr. perfect (a plan etc.). 3 intr. (of a
bill etc.) become due for payment. Ьmature student an adult
student who is older than most students. ЬЬmaturely adv.
matureness n. maturity n. [ME f. L maturus timely, early]
matutinal adj. 1 of or occurring in the morning. 2 early. [LL
matutinalis f. L matutinus: see MATINS]
maty var. of MATEY.
matzo n. (pl. -os or matzoth) 1 a wafer of unleavened bread for the
Passover. 2 such bread collectively. [Yiddish f. Heb. massah]
maud n. 1 a Scots shepherd's grey striped plaid. 2 a travelling-rug
like this. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
maudlin adj. & n. --adj. weakly or tearfully sentimental, esp. in a
tearful and effusive stage of drunkenness. --n. weak or mawkish
sentiment. [ME f. OF Madeleine f. eccl.L Magdalena MAGDALEN,
with ref. to pictures of Mary Magdalen weeping]
maul v. & n. --v.tr. 1 beat and bruise. 2 handle roughly or
carelessly. 3 damage by criticism. --n. 1 Rugby Football a
loose scrum with the ball off the ground. 2 a brawl. 3 a
special heavy hammer, commonly of wood, esp. for driving piles.
ЬЬmauler n. [ME f. OF mail f. L malleus hammer]
maulstick n. (also mahlstick) a light stick with a padded leather ball at
one end, held by a painter in one hand to support the other
hand. [Du. maalstok f. malen to paint + stok stick]
maunder v.intr. 1 talk in a dreamy or rambling manner. 2 move or act
listlessly or idly. [perh. f. obs. maunder beggar, to beg]
Maundy n. (in the UK) the distribution of money on the Thursday before
Easter (see below). ЬMaundy money specially minted silver coins
distributed by the British sovereign on Maundy Thursday. Maundy
Thursday the Thursday before Easter. [ME f. OF mand‚ f. L
mandatum MANDATE, commandment (see John 13:34)]
mausoleum n. a large and grand tomb. [L f. Gk Mausoleion f. Mausolos
Mausolus king of Caria (4th c. BC), to whose tomb the name was
mauve adj. & n. --adj. pale purple. --n. 1 this colour. 2 a bright
but delicate pale purple dye from coal-tar aniline. ЬЬmauvish
adj. [F, lit. = mallow, f. L malva]
maven n. US colloq. an expert or connoisseur. [Heb. mebin]
maverick n. 1 US an unbranded calf or yearling. 2 an unorthodox or
independent-minded person. [S. A. Maverick, Texas engineer and
rancher d. 1870, who did not brand his cattle]
mavis n. poet. or dial. a song thrush. [ME f. OF mauvis, of uncert.
maw n. 1 a the stomach of an animal. b the jaws or throat of a
voracious animal. 2 colloq. the stomach of a greedy person.
[OE maga f. Gmc]
mawkish adj. 1 sentimental in a feeble or sickly way. 2 having a faint
sickly flavour. ЬЬmawkishly adv. mawkishness n. [obs. mawk
maggot f. ON mathkr f. Gmc]
max. abbr. maximum.
maxi n. (pl. maxis) colloq. a maxi-coat, -skirt, etc. [abbr.]
maxi- comb. form very large or long (maxi-coat). [abbr. of MAXIMUM:
maxilla n. (pl. maxillae) 1 the jaw or jawbone, esp. the upper jaw in
most vertebrates. 2 the mouth-part of many arthropods used in
chewing. ЬЬmaxillary adj. [L, = jaw]
maxim n. a general truth or rule of conduct expressed in a sentence.
[ME f. F maxime or med.L maxima (propositio), fem. adj. (as
maxima pl. of MAXIMUM.
maximal adj. being or relating to a maximum; the greatest possible in
size, duration, etc. ЬЬmaximally adv.
n. a person who rejects compromise and expects a full response
to (esp. political) demands. [MAXIMAL, after Russ.
maximize v.tr. (also -ise) increase or enhance to the utmost.
ЬЬmaximization n. maximizer n. [L maximus: see MAXIMUM]
maximum n. & adj. --n. (pl. maxima) the highest possible or
attainable amount. --adj. that is a maximum. [mod.L, neut. of
L maximus, superl. of magnus great]
maxwell n. a unit of magnetic flux in the c.g.s. system, equal to that
induced through one square centimetre by a perpendicular
magnetic field of one gauss. [J. C. Maxwell, Brit. physicist
May n. 1 the fifth month of the year. 2 (may) the hawthorn or its
blossom. 3 poet. bloom, prime. Ьmay-apple an American
herbaceous plant, Podophyllum peltatum, bearing a yellow
egg-shaped fruit in May. May-bug a cockchafer. May Day 1 May
esp. as a festival with dancing, or as an international holiday
in honour of workers. May queen a girl chosen to preside over
celebrations on May Day. Queen of the May = May queen. [ME f.
OF mai f. L Maius (mensis) (month) of the goddess Maia]
may v.aux. (3rd sing. present may; past might) 1 (often foll. by
well for emphasis) expressing possibility (it may be true; I may
have been wrong; you may well lose your way). 2 expressing
permission (you may not go; may I come in?). °Both can and may
are used to express permission; in more formal contexts may is
usual since can also denotes capability (can I move? = am I
physically able to move?; may I move = am I allowed to move?).
3 expressing a wish (may he live to regret it). 4 expressing
uncertainty or irony in questions (who may you be?; who are you,
may I ask?). 5 in purpose clauses and after wish, fear, etc.
(take such measures as may avert disaster; hope he may succeed).
Ьbe that as it may (or that is as may be) that may or may not be
so (implying that there are other factors) (be that as it may, I
still want to go). [OE m‘g f. Gmc, rel. to MAIN(1), MIGHT(2)]
Maya n. 1 (pl. same or Mayas) a member of an ancient Indian people
of Central America. 2 the language of this people. ЬЬMayan
adj. & n. [native name]
maya n. Hinduism a marvel or illusion, esp. in the phenomenal
universe. [Skr. maya]
maybe adv. perhaps, possibly. [ME f. it may be]
mayday n. an international radio distress-signal used esp. by ships
and aircraft. [repr. pronunc. of F m' aidez help me]
mayest archaic = MAYST.
mayflower n. any of various flowers that bloom in May, esp. the trailing
arbutus, Epigaea repens.
mayfly n. (pl. -flies) 1 any insect of the order Ephemeroptera,
living briefly in spring in the adult stage. 2 an imitation
mayfly used by anglers.
mayhap adv. archaic perhaps, possibly. [ME f. it may hap]
mayhem n. 1 violent or damaging action. 2 hist. the crime of maiming
a person so as to render him or her partly or wholly
defenceless. [AF mahem, OF mayhem (as MAIM)]
maying n. & adj. participation in May Day festivities. [ME f. MAY]
mayn't contr. may not.
n. 1 a thick creamy dressing made of egg-yolks, oil, vinegar,
etc. 2 a (usu. specified) dish dressed with this (chicken
mayonnaise). [F, perh. f. mahonnais -aise of Port Mahon on
mayor n. 1 the head of the municipal corporation of a city or
borough. 2 (in England, Wales, and N. Ireland) the head of a
district council with the status of a borough. ЬЬmayoral adj.
mayorship n. [ME f. OF maire f. L (as MAJOR)]
mayoralty n. (pl. -ies) 1 the office of mayor. 2 a mayor's period of
office. [ME f. OF mairalt‚ (as MAYOR)]
mayoress n. 1 a woman holding the office of mayor. 2 the wife of a
mayor. 3 a woman fulfilling the ceremonial duties of a mayor's
maypole n. a pole painted and decked with flowers and ribbons, for
dancing round on May Day.
mayst archaic 2nd sing. present of MAY.
mayweed n. the stinking camomile, Anthemis cotula. [earlier maidwede
f. obs. maithe(n) f. OE magothe, m‘gtha + WEED]
mazard n. (also mazzard) 1 the wild sweet cherry, Prunus avium, of
Europe. 2 archaic a head or face. [alt. of MAZER]
mazarine n. & adj. a rich deep blue. [17th c., perh. f. the name of
Cardinal Mazarin, French statesman d. 1661, or Duchesse de
Mazarin, French noblewoman d. 1699]
maze n. & v. --n. 1 a network of paths and hedges designed as a
puzzle for those who try to penetrate it. 2 a complex network
of paths or passages; a labyrinth. 3 confusion, a confused
mass, etc. --v.tr. (esp. as mazed adj.) bewilder, confuse.
ЬЬmazy adj. (mazier, maziest). [ME, orig. as mased (adj.):
rel. to AMAZE]
mazer n. hist. a hardwood drinking-bowl, usu. silver-mounted. [ME
f. OF masere f. Gmc]
mazurka n. 1 a usu. lively Polish dance in triple time. 2 the music
for this. [F mazurka or G Masurka, f. Pol. mazurka woman of
the province Mazovia]
ME abbr. 1 US Maine (in official postal use). 2 myalgic
encephalomyelitis, an obscure disease with symptoms like those
of influenza and prolonged periods of tiredness and depression.
Me. abbr. 1 Maine. 2 MaЊtre (title of a French advocate).
me(1) pron. 1 objective case of I(2) (he saw me). 2 colloq. = I(2)
(it's me all right; is taller than me). 3 US colloq. myself, to
or for myself (I got me a gun). 4 colloq. used in exclamations
(ah me!; dear me!; silly me!). Ьme and mine me and my
relatives. [OE me, me accus. & dative of I(2) f. Gmc]
me(2) n. (also mi) Mus. 1 (in tonic sol-fa) the third note of a
major scale. 2 the note E in the fixed-doh system. [ME f. L
mira: see GAMUT]
mea culpa n. & int. --n. an acknowledgement of one's fault or error.
--int. expressing such an acknowledgement. [L, = by my fault]
mead(1) n. an alcoholic drink of fermented honey and water. [OE
me(o)du f. Gmc]
mead(2) n. poet. or archaic = MEADOW. [OE m‘d f. Gmc, rel. to MOW(1)]
meadow n. 1 a piece of grassland, esp. one used for hay. 2 a piece of
low well-watered ground, esp. near a river. Ьmeadow brown a
common brown butterfly, Maniola jurtina. meadow-grass a
perennial creeping grass, Poa pratensis. meadow lark US any
songbird of the genus Sturnella, esp. the yellow-breasted S.
magna of N. America. meadow pipit a common pipit, Anthus
pratensis, native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. meadow rue any
ranunculaceous plant of the genus Thalictrum, esp. T. flavum
with small yellow flowers. meadow saffron a perennial plant,
Colchicum autumnale, abundant in meadows, with lilac flowers:
also called autumn crocus. ЬЬmeadowy adj. [OE m‘dwe, oblique
case of m‘d: see MEAD(2)]
n. 1 a rosaceous plant, Filipendula ulmaria, common in meadows
and damp places, with creamy-white fragrant flowers. 2 any of
several rosaceous plants of the genus Spiraea, native to N.
meagre adj. (US meager) 1 lacking in amount or quality (a meagre
salary). 2 (of literary composition, ideas, etc.) lacking
fullness, unsatisfying. 3 (of a person or animal) lean, thin.
ЬЬmeagrely adv. meagreness n. [ME f. AF megre, OF maigre f. L
meal(1) n. 1 an occasion when food is eaten. 2 the food eaten on one
occasion. Ьmake a meal of 1 treat (a task etc.) too laboriously
or fussily. 2 consume as a meal. meals on wheels Brit. a
service by which meals are delivered to old people, invalids,
etc. meal-ticket 1 a ticket entitling one to a meal, esp. at a
specified place with reduced cost. 2 a person or thing that is
a source of food or income. [OE m‘l mark, fixed time, meal f.
meal(2) n. 1 the edible part of any grain or pulse (usu. other than
wheat) ground to powder. 2 Sc. oatmeal. 3 US maize flour. 4
any powdery substance made by grinding. Ьmeal-beetle an insect,
Tenebrio molitor, infesting granaries etc. meal-worm the larva
of the meal-beetle. [OE melu f. Gmc]
mealie n. (also mielie) S.Afr. 1 (usu. in pl.) maize. 2 a corn-cob.
[Afrik. mielie f. Port. milho maize, millet f. L milium]
mealtime n. any of the usual times of eating.
mealy adj. (mealier, mealiest) 1 a of or like meal; soft and powdery.
b containing meal. 2 (of a complexion) pale. 3 (of a horse)
spotty. 4 (in full mealy-mouthed) not outspoken; afraid to use
plain expressions. Ьmealy bug any insect of the genus
Pseudococcus, infesting vines etc., whose body is covered with
white powder. ЬЬmealiness n.
mean(1) v.tr. (past and past part. meant) 1 a (often foll. by to +
infin.) have as one's purpose or intention; have in mind (they
really mean mischief; I didn't mean to break it). b (foll. by
by) have as a motive in explanation (what do you mean by that?).
2 (often in passive) design or destine for a purpose (mean it to
be used; mean it for a stopgap; is meant to be a gift). 3
intend to convey or indicate or refer to (a particular thing or
notion) (I mean we cannot go; I mean Richmond in Surrey). 4
entail, involve (it means catching the early train). 5 (often
foll. by that + clause) portend, signify (this means trouble;
your refusal means that we must look elsewhere). 6 (of a word)
have as its explanation in the same language or its equivalent
in another language. 7 (foll. by to) be of some specified
importance to (a person), esp. as a source of benefit or object
of affection etc. (that means a lot to me). Ьmean business be
in earnest. mean it not be joking or exaggerating. mean to say
really admit (usu. in interrog.: do you mean to say you have
lost it?). mean well (often foll. by to, towards, by) have good
intentions. [OE m‘nan f. WG, rel. to MIND]
mean(2) adj. 1 niggardly; not generous or liberal. 2 (of an action)
ignoble, small-minded. 3 (of a person's capacity,
understanding, etc.) inferior, poor. 4 (of housing) not
imposing in appearance; shabby. 5 a malicious, ill-tempered. b
US vicious or aggressive in behaviour. 6 colloq. skilful,
formidable (is a mean fighter). 7 colloq. ashamed (feel mean).
Ьno mean a very good (that is no mean achievement). mean White
= poor White. ЬЬmeanly adv. meanness n. [OE m‘ne, gem‘ne f.
mean(3) n. & adj. --n. 1 a condition, quality, virtue, or course of
action equally removed from two opposite (usu. unsatisfactory)
extremes. 2 Math. a the term or one of the terms midway
between the first and last terms of an arithmetical or
geometrical etc. progression (2 and 8 have the arithmetic mean 5
and the geometric mean 4). b the quotient of the sum of several
quantities and their number, the average. --adj. 1 (of a
quantity) equally far from two extremes. 2 calculated as a
mean. Ьmean free path the average distance travelled by a gas
molecule etc. between collisions. mean sea level the sea level
halfway between the mean levels of high and low water. mean sun
an imaginary sun moving in the celestial equator at the mean
rate of the real sun, used in calculating solar time. mean time
the time based on the movement of the mean sun. [ME f. AF meen
f. OF meien, moien f. L medianus MEDIAN]
meander v. & n. --v.intr. 1 wander at random. 2 (of a stream) wind
about. --n. 1 (in pl.) a the sinuous windings of a river. b
winding paths. 2 a circuitous journey. 3 an ornamental pattern
of lines winding in and out; a fret. [L maeander f. Gk
Maiandros, the name of a winding river in Phrygia]
meandrine adj. full of windings (esp. of corals of the genus Meandrina,
with a surface like a human brain). [MEANDER + -INE(1)]
meanie n. (also meany) (pl. -ies) colloq. a mean, niggardly, or
meaning n. & adj. --n. 1 what is meant by a word, action, idea, etc.
2 significance. 3 importance. --adj. expressive, significant
(a meaning glance). ЬЬmeaningly adv.
adj. 1 full of meaning; significant. 2 Logic able to be
interpreted. ЬЬmeaningfully adv. meaningfulness n.
adj. having no meaning or significance. ЬЬmeaninglessly adv.
means n.pl. 1 (often treated as sing.) that by which a result is
brought about (a means of quick travel). 2 a money resources
(live beyond one's means). b wealth (a man of means). Ьby all
means (or all manner of means) 1 certainly. 2 in every possible
way. 3 at any cost. by means of by the agency or
instrumentality of (a thing or action). by no means (or no
manner of means) not at all; certainly not. means test an
official inquiry to establish need before financial assistance
from public funds is given. [pl. of MEAN(3)]
meant past and past part. of MEAN(1).
meantime adv. & n. --adv. = MEANWHILE. °Less usual than meanwhile.
--n. the intervening period (esp. in the meantime). [MEAN(3) +
meanwhile adv. & n. --adv. 1 in the intervening period of time. 2 at
the same time. --n. the intervening period (esp. in the
meanwhile). [MEAN(3) + WHILE]
meany var. of MEANIE.
measles n.pl. (also treated as sing.) 1 a an acute infectious viral
disease marked by red spots on the skin. b the spots of
measles. 2 a tapeworm disease of pigs. [ME masele(s) prob. f.
MLG masele, MDu. masel pustule (cf. Du. mazelen measles), OHG
masala: change of form prob. due to assim. to ME meser leper]
measly adj. (measlier, measliest) 1 colloq. inferior, contemptible,
worthless. 2 of or affected with measles. 3 (of pork) infested
with tapeworms. [MEASLES + -Y(1)]
adj. that can be measured. Ьwithin a measurable distance of
getting near (something undesirable). ЬЬmeasurability n.
measurably adv. [ME f. OF mesurable f. LL mensurabilis f. L
mensurare (as MEASURE)]
measure n. & v. --n. 1 a size or quantity found by measuring. 2 a
system of measuring (liquid measure; linear measure). 3 a rod
or tape etc. for measuring. 4 a vessel of standard capacity for
transferring or determining fixed quantities of liquids etc. (a
pint measure). 5 a the degree, extent, or amount of a thing. b
(foll. by of) some degree of (there was a measure of wit in her
remark). 6 a unit of capacity, e.g. a bushel (20 measures of
wheat). 7 a factor by which a person or thing is reckoned or
evaluated (their success is a measure of their determination).
8 (usu. in pl.) suitable action to achieve some end (took
measures to ensure a good profit). 9 a legislative enactment.
10 a quantity contained in another an exact number of times. 11
a prescribed extent or quantity. 12 Printing the width of a
page or column of type. 13 a poetical rhythm; metre. b a
metrical group of a dactyl or two iambuses, trochees, spondees,
etc. 14 US Mus. a bar or the time-content of a bar. 15 archaic
a dance. 16 a mineral stratum (coal measures). --v. 1 tr.
ascertain the extent or quantity of (a thing) by comparison with
a fixed unit or with an object of known size. 2 intr. be of a
specified size (it measures six inches). 3 tr. ascertain the
size and proportion of (a person) for clothes. 4 tr. estimate
(a quality, person's character, etc.) by some standard or rule.
5 tr. (often foll. by off) mark (a line etc. of a given length).
6 tr. (foll. by out) deal or distribute (a thing) in measured
quantities. 7 tr. (foll. by with, against) bring (oneself or
one's strength etc.) into competition with. 8 tr. poet.
traverse (a distance). Ьbeyond measure excessively. for good
measure as something beyond the minimum; as a finishing touch.
in a (or some) measure partly. made to measure Brit. (of
clothes) made from measurements taken. measure up 1 a determine
the size etc. of by measurement. b take comprehensive
measurements. 2 (often foll. by to) have the necessary
qualifications (for). measuring-jug (or -cup) a jug or cup
marked to measure its contents. measuring-tape a tape marked to
measure length. measuring-worm the caterpillar of the geometer
moth. [ME f. OF mesure f. L mensura f. metiri mens- measure]
measured adj. 1 rhythmical; regular in movement (a measured tread). 2
(of language) carefully considered. ЬЬmeasuredly adv.
adj. not measurable; infinite. ЬЬmeasurelessly adv.
n. 1 the act or an instance of measuring. 2 an amount
determined by measuring. 3 (in pl.) detailed dimensions.
meat n. 1 the flesh of animals (esp. mammals) as food. 2 (foll. by
of) the essence or chief part of. 3 US the edible part of
fruits, nuts, eggs, shellfish, etc. 4 archaic a food of any
kind. b a meal. Ьmeat and drink a source of great pleasure.
meat-axe a butcher's cleaver. meat-fly (pl. -flies) a fly that
breeds in meat. meat loaf minced or chopped meat moulded into
the shape of a loaf and baked. meat safe a cupboard for storing
meat, usu. of wire gauze etc. ЬЬmeatless adj. [OE mete food f.
meatball n. minced meat compressed into a small round ball.
meatus n. (pl. same or meatuses) Anat. a channel or passage in the
body or its opening. [L, = passage f. meare flow, run]
meaty adj. (meatier, meatiest) 1 full of meat; fleshy. 2 of or like
meat. 3 full of substance. ЬЬmeatily adv. meatiness n.
Mecca n. 1 a place one aspires to visit. 2 the birthplace of a
faith, policy, pursuit, etc. [Mecca in Arabia, birthplace of
Muhammad and chief place of Muslim pilgrimage]
mechanic n. a skilled worker, esp. one who makes or uses or repairs
machinery. [ME (orig. as adj.) f. OF mecanique or L mechanicus
f. Gk mekhanikos (as MACHINE)]
adj. 1 of or relating to machines or mechanisms. 2 working or
produced by machinery. 3 (of a person or action) like a
machine; automatic; lacking originality. 4 a (of an agency,
principle, etc.) belonging to mechanics. b (of a theory etc.)
explaining phenomena by the assumption of mechanical action. 5
of or relating to mechanics as a science. Ьmechanical advantage
the ratio of exerted to applied force in a machine. mechanical
drawing a scale drawing of machinery etc. done with precision
instruments. mechanical engineer a person skilled in the branch
of engineering dealing with the design, construction, and repair
of machines. mechanical equivalent of heat the conversion
factor between heat energy and mechanical energy.
ЬЬmechanicalism n. (in sense 4). mechanically adv.
mechanicalness n. [ME f. L mechanicus (as MECHANIC)]
n. a person skilled in constructing machinery.
mechanics n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) 1 the branch of applied
mathematics dealing with motion and tendencies to motion. 2 the
science of machinery. 3 the method of construction or routine
operation of a thing.
mechanism n. 1 the structure or adaptation of parts of a machine. 2 a
system of mutually adapted parts working together in or as in a
machine. 3 the mode of operation of a process. 4 Art
mechanical execution; technique. 5 Philos. the doctrine that
all natural phenomena, including life, allow mechanical
explanation by physics and chemistry. [mod.L mechanismus f. Gk
mechanist n. 1 a mechanician. 2 an expert in mechanics. 3 Philos. a
person who holds the doctrine of mechanism. ЬЬmechanistic adj.
mechanize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 give a mechanical character to. 2
introduce machines in. 3 Mil. equip with tanks, armoured cars,
etc. (orig. as a substitute for horse-drawn vehicles and
cavalry). ЬЬmechanization n. mechanizer n.
mechano- comb. form mechanical. [Gk mekhano- f. mekhane machine]
n. Biol. a sensory receptor that responds to mechanical
stimuli such as touch or sound.
n. the science of the combination of electronics and mechanics
in developing new manufacturing techniques. [mechanics + elec
Mechlin n. (in full Mechlin lace) lace made at Mechlin (now Mechelen or
Malines) in Belgium.
M.Econ. abbr. Master of Economics.
meconium n. Med. a dark substance forming the first faeces of a newborn
infant. [L, lit. poppy-juice, f. Gk mekonion f. mekon poppy]
Med n. colloq. the Mediterranean Sea. [abbr.]
med. abbr. medium.
M.Ed. abbr. Master of Education.
medal n. a piece of metal, usu. in the form of a disc, struck or cast
with an inscription or device to commemorate an event etc., or
awarded as a distinction to a soldier, scholar, athlete, etc.,
for services rendered, for proficiency, etc. Ьmedal play Golf =
stroke play. ЬЬmedalled adj. medallic adj. [F m‚daille f. It.
medaglia ult. f. L metallum METAL]
medallion n. 1 a large medal. 2 a thing shaped like this, e.g. a
decorative panel or tablet, portrait, etc. [F m‚daillon f. It.
medaglione augment. of medaglia (as MEDAL)]
medallist n. (US medalist) 1 a recipient of a (specified) medal (gold
medallist). 2 an engraver or designer of medals.
meddle v.intr. (often foll. by with, in) interfere in or busy oneself
unduly with others' concerns. ЬЬmeddler n. [ME f. OF medler,
var. of mesler ult. f. L miscere mix]
adj. fond of meddling; interfering. ЬЬmeddlesomely adv.
Mede n. hist. a member of an Indo-European people which established
an empire in Media in Persia (modern Iran) in the 7th c. BC.
ЬЬMedian adj. [ME f. L Medi (pl.) f. Gk Medoi]
media(1) n.pl. 1 pl. of MEDIUM. 2 (usu. prec. by the) the main means of
mass communication (esp. newspapers and broadcasting) regarded
collectively. °Use as a mass noun with a singular verb is
common (e.g. the media is on our side), but is generally
disfavoured (cf. AGENDA, DATA). Ьmedia event an event
primarily intended to attract publicity.
media(2) n. (pl. mediae) 1 Phonet. a voiced stop, e.g. g, b, d. 2
Anat. a middle layer of the wall of an artery or other vessel.
[L, fem. of medius middle]
mediaeval var. of MEDIEVAL.
medial adj. 1 situated in the middle. 2 of average size. ЬЬmedially
adv. [LL medialis f. L medius middle]
median adj. & n. --adj. situated in the middle. --n. 1 Anat. a
median artery, vein, nerve, etc. 2 Geom. a straight line drawn
from any vertex of a triangle to the middle of the opposite
side. 3 Math. the middle value of a series of values arranged
in order of size. ЬЬmedianly adv. [F m‚diane or L medianus (as
mediant n. Mus. the third note of a diatonic scale of any key. [F
m‚diante f. It. mediante part. of obs. mediare come between,
f. L (as MEDIATE)]
n. (pl. mediastina) Anat. a membranous middle septum, esp.
between the lungs. ЬЬmediastinal adj. [mod.L f. med.L
mediastinus medial, after L mediastinus drudge f. medius
mediate v. & adj. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by between) intervene
(between parties in a dispute) to produce agreement or
reconciliation. 2 tr. be the medium for bringing about (a
result) or for conveying (a gift etc.). 3 tr. form a connecting
link between. --adj. 1 connected not directly but through some
other person or thing. 2 involving an intermediate agency.
ЬЬmediately adv. mediation n. mediator n. mediatory adj. [LL
mediare mediat- f. L medius middle]
medic(1) n. colloq. a medical practitioner or student. [L medicus
physician f. mederi heal]
medic(2) var. of MEDICK.
medicable adj. admitting of remedial treatment. [L medicabilis (as
Medicaid n. (in the US) a Federal system of health insurance for those
requiring financial assistance. [MEDICAL + AID]
medical adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to the science of medicine
in general. 2 of or relating to conditions requiring medical
and not surgical treatment (medical ward). --n. colloq. a
medical examination. Ьmedical certificate a certificate of
fitness or unfitness to work etc. medical examination an
examination to determine a person's physical fitness. medical
jurisprudence the law relating to medicine. medical officer
Brit. a person in charge of the health services of a local
authority or other organization. medical practitioner a
physician or surgeon. ЬЬmedically adv. [F m‚dical or med.L
medicalis f. L medicus: see MEDIC(1)]
n. a substance used for medical treatment. [F m‚dicament or L
medicamentum (as MEDICATE)]
Medicare n. (in the US) a Federal system of health insurance for persons
over 65 years of age. [MEDICAL + CARE]
medicate v.tr. 1 treat medically. 2 impregnate with a medicinal
substance. ЬЬmedicative adj. [L medicari medicat- administer
remedies to f. medicus: see MEDIC(1)]
n. 1 a substance used for medical treatment. 2 treatment using
Medicean adj. of the Medici family, rulers of Florence in the 15th c.
[mod.L Mediceus f. It. Medici]
medicinal adj. & n. --adj. (of a substance) having healing properties.
--n. a medicinal substance. ЬЬmedicinally adv. [ME f. OF f. L
medicinalis (as MEDICINE)]
medicine n. 1 the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and
prevention of disease, esp. as distinct from surgical methods.
2 any drug or preparation used for the treatment or prevention
of disease, esp. one taken by mouth. 3 a spell, charm, or
fetish which is thought to cure afflictions. Ьa dose (or taste)
of one's own medicine treatment such as one is accustomed to
giving others. medicine ball a stuffed leather ball thrown and
caught for exercise. medicine chest a box containing medicines
etc. medicine man a person believed to have magical powers of
healing, esp. among N. American Indians. take one's medicine
submit to something disagreeable. [ME f. OF medecine f. L
medicina f. medicus: see MEDIC(1)]
medick n. (also medic) any leguminous plant of the genus Medicago,
esp. alfalfa. [ME f. L medica f. Gk Medike poa Median grass]
medico n. (pl. -os) colloq. a medical practitioner or student. [It.
f. L (as MEDIC(1))]
medico- comb. form medical; medical and (medico-legal). [L medicus (as
medieval adj. (also mediaeval) 1 of, or in the style of, the Middle
Ages. 2 colloq. old-fashioned, archaic. Ьmedieval history the
history of the 5th-15th c. medieval Latin Latin of about AD
600-1500. ЬЬmedievalism n. medievalist n. medievalize v.tr. &
intr. (also -ise). medievally adv. [mod.L medium aevum f. L
medius middle + aevum age]
mediocre adj. 1 of middling quality, neither good nor bad. 2
second-rate. [F m‚diocre or f. L mediocris of middle height or
degree f. medius middle + ocris rugged mountain]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state of being mediocre. 2 a mediocre
person or thing.
meditate v. 1 intr. a exercise the mind in (esp. religious)
contemplation. b (usu. foll. by on, upon) focus on a subject in
this manner. 2 tr. plan mentally; design. ЬЬmeditation n.
meditator n. [L meditari contemplate]
adj. 1 inclined to meditate. 2 indicative of meditation.
ЬЬmeditatively adv. meditativeness n.
n. & adj. --n. 1 a large landlocked sea bordered by S. Europe,
SW Asia, and N. Africa. 2 a native of a country bordering on
the Mediterranean. --adj. 1 of or characteristic of the
Mediterranean or its surrounding region (Mediterranean climate;
Mediterranean cookery). 2 (of a person) dark-complexioned and
not tall. [L mediterraneus inland f. medius middle + terra
medium n. & adj. --n. (pl. media or mediums) 1 the middle quality,
degree, etc. between extremes (find a happy medium). 2 the
means by which something is communicated (the medium of sound;
the medium of television). 3 the intervening substance through
which impressions are conveyed to the senses etc. (light passing
from one medium into another). 4 Biol. the physical environment
or conditions of growth, storage, or transport of a living
organism (the shape of a fish is ideal for its fluid medium;
growing mould on the surface of a medium). 5 an agency or means
of doing something (the medium through which money is raised).
6 the material or form used by an artist, composer, etc.
(language as an artistic medium). 7 the liquid (e.g. oil or
gel) with which pigments are mixed for use in painting. 8 (pl.
mediums) a person claiming to be in contact with the spirits of
the dead and to communicate between the dead and the living.
--adj. 1 between two qualities, degrees, etc. 2 average;
moderate (of medium height). Ьmedium bowler Cricket a bowler
who bowls at a medium pace. medium dry (of sherry, wine, etc.)
having a flavour intermediate between dry and sweet. medium
frequency a radio frequency between 300 kHz and 3 MHz. medium
of circulation something that serves as an instrument of
commercial transactions, e.g. coin. medium-range (of an
aircraft, missile, etc.) able to travel a medium distance.
medium wave a radio wave of medium frequency. ЬЬmediumism n.
(in sense 8 of n.). mediumistic adj. (in sense 8 of n.).
mediumship n. (in sense 8 of n.). [L, = middle, neut. of
medlar n. 1 a rosaceous tree, Mespilus germanica, bearing small brown
apple-like fruits. 2 the fruit of this tree which is eaten when
decayed. [ME f. OF medler f. L mespila f. Gk mespile, -on]
medley n., adj., & v. --n. (pl. -eys) 1 a varied mixture; a
miscellany. 2 a collection of musical items from one work or
various sources arranged as a continuous whole. --adj. archaic
mixed; motley. --v.tr. (-eys, -eyed) archaic make a medley of;
intermix. Ьmedley relay a relay race between teams in which
each member runs a different distance, swims a different stroke,
etc. [ME f. OF medlee var. of meslee f. Rmc (as MEDDLE)]
Medoc n. a fine red claret from the M‚doc region of SW France.
medulla n. 1 the inner region of certain organs or tissues usu. when it
is distinguishable from the outer region or cortex, as in hair
or a kidney. 2 the myelin layer of certain nerve fibres. 3 the
soft internal tissue of plants. Ьmedulla oblongata the
continuation of the spinal cord within the skull, forming the
lowest part of the brain stem. ЬЬmedullary adj. [L, = pith,
marrow, prob. rel. to medius middle]
medusa n. (pl. medusae or medusas) 1 a jellyfish. 2 a free-swimming
form of any coelenterate, having tentacles round the edge of a
usu. umbrella-shaped jelly-like body, e.g. a jellyfish.
ЬЬmedusan adj. [L f. Gk Medousa, name of a Gorgon with snakes
instead of hair]
meed n. literary or archaic 1 reward. 2 merited portion (of praise
etc.). [OE med f. WG, rel. to Goth. mizdo, Gk misthos reward]
meek adj. 1 humble and submissive; suffering injury etc. tamely. 2
piously gentle in nature. ЬЬmeekly adv. meekness n. [ME
me(o)c f. ON mjЈkr soft, gentle]
meerkat n. the suricate. [Du., = sea-cat]
n. 1 a soft white form of hydrated magnesium silicate, chiefly
found in Turkey, which resembles clay. 2 a tobacco-pipe with
the bowl made from this. [G, = sea-foam f. Meer sea + Schaum
foam, transl. Pers. kef-i-darya, with ref. to its frothiness]
meet(1) v. & n. --v. (past and past part. met) 1 a tr. encounter (a
person or persons) by accident or design; come face to face
with. b intr. (of two or more people) come into each other's
company by accident or design (decided to meet on the bridge).
2 tr. go to a place to be present at the arrival of (a person,
train, etc.). 3 a tr. (of a moving object, line, feature of
landscape, etc.) come together or into contact with (where the
road meets the flyover). b intr. come together or into contact
(where the sea and the sky meet). 4 a tr. make the acquaintance
of (delighted to meet you). b intr. (of two or more people)
make each other's acquaintance. 5 intr. & tr. come together or
come into contact with for the purposes of conference, business,
worship, etc. (the committee meets every week; the union met
management yesterday). 6 tr. a (of a person or a group) deal
with or answer (a demand, objection, etc.) (met the original
proposal with hostility). b satisfy or conform with (proposals,
deadlines, a person, etc.) (agreed to meet the new terms; did my
best to meet them on that point). 7 tr. pay (a bill etc.);
provide the funds required by (a cheque etc.) (meet the cost of
the move). 8 tr. & (foll. by with) intr. experience, encounter,
or receive (success, disaster, a difficulty, etc.) (met their
death; met with many problems). 9 tr. oppose in battle,
contest, or confrontation. 10 intr. (of clothes, curtains,
etc.) join or fasten correctly (my jacket won't meet). --n. 1
the assembly of riders and hounds for a hunt. 2 the assembly of
competitors for various sporting activities, esp. athletics.
Ьmake ends meet see END. meet the case be adequate. meet the
eye (or the ear) be visible (or audible). meet a person's eye
check if another person is watching and look into his or her
eyes in return. meet a person half way make a compromise,
respond in a friendly way to the advances of another person.
meet up colloq. happen to meet. meet with 1 see sense 8 of v.
2 receive (a reaction) (met with the committee's approval). 3
esp. US = sense 1a of v. more in it than meets the eye hidden
qualities or complications. ЬЬmeeter n. [OE metan f. Gmc: cf.
meet(2) adj. archaic suitable, fit, proper. ЬЬmeetly adv. meetness n.
[ME (i)mete repr. OE gem‘te f. Gmc, rel. to METE(1)]
meeting n. 1 in senses of MEET(1). 2 an assembly of people, esp. the
members of a society, committee, etc., for discussion or
entertainment. 3 = race meeting. 4 an assembly (esp. of
Quakers) for worship. 5 the persons assembled (address the
meeting). Ьmeeting-house a place of worship, esp. of Quakers
mega- comb. form 1 large. 2 denoting a factor of one million (10(6))
in the metric system of measurement. °Abbr.: M. [Gk f. megas
megabuck n. US colloq. a million dollars.
megabyte n. Computing 1,048,576 (i.e. 2(20).) bytes as a measure of data
capacity, or loosely 1,000,000. °Abbr.: MB.
megadeath n. the death of one million people (esp. as a unit in
estimating the casualties of war).
megahertz n. one million hertz, esp. as a measure of frequency of radio
transmissions. °Abbr.: MHz.
megalith n. Archaeol. a large stone, esp. one placed upright as a
monument or part of one. [MEGA- + Gk lithos stone]
adj. Archaeol. made of or marked by the use of large stones.
megalo- comb. form great (megalomania). [Gk f. megas megal- great]
n. 1 a mental disorder producing delusions of grandeur. 2 a
passion for grandiose schemes. ЬЬmegalomaniac adj. & n.
megalomaniacal adj. megalomanic adj.
n. 1 a great city or its way of life. 2 an urban complex
consisting of a city and its environs. ЬЬmegalopolitan adj. &
n. [MEGA- + Gk polis city]
n. a large flesh-eating dinosaur of the genus Megalosaurus,
with stout hind legs and small forelimbs. [MEGALO- + Gk sauros
megaphone n. a large funnel-shaped device for amplifying the sound of the
megapode n. (also megapod) any bird of the family Megapodidae, native to
Australasia, that builds a mound of debris for the incubation of
its eggs, e.g. a mallee fowl. [mod.L Megapodius (genus-name)
formed as MEGA- + Gk pous podos foot]
megaron n. the central hall of a large Mycenaean house. [Gk, = hall]
megaspore n. the larger of the two kinds of spores produced by some ferns
megastar n. a very famous person, esp. in the world of entertainment.
megaton n. (also megatonne) a unit of explosive power equal to one
million tons of TNT.
megavolt n. one million volts, esp. as a unit of electromotive force.
megawatt n. one million watts, esp. as a measure of electrical power as
generated by power stations. °Abbr.: MW.
Megger n. Electr. propr. an instrument for measuring electrical
insulation resistance. [cf. MEGOHM]
megilp n. (also magilp) a mixture of mastic resin and linseed oil,
added to oil paints, much used in the 19th c. [18th c.: orig.
megohm n. Electr. one million ohms. [MEGA- + OHM]
megrim(1) n. 1 archaic migraine. 2 a whim, a fancy. 3 (in pl.) a
depression; low spirits. b staggers, vertigo in horses etc.
[ME mygrane f. OF MIGRAINE]
megrim(2) n. any deep-water flat-fish of the family Lepidorhombus, esp.
L. whiffiagonis. Also called sail-fluke. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
meiosis n. 1 Biol. a type of cell division that results in daughter
cells with half the chromosome number of the parent cell (cf.
MITOSIS). 2 = LITOTES. ЬЬmeiotic adj. meiotically adv.
[mod.L f. Gk meiosis f. meioo lessen f. meion less]
Meissen n. a hard-paste porcelain made since 1710 . [Meissen near
Dresden in Germany]
n. (pl. same) a member of one of the 14th-16th-c. German guilds
for lyric poets and musicians. [G f. Meister MASTER + Singer
SINGER (see SING)]
melamine n. 1 a white crystalline compound that can be copolymerized
with methanal to give thermosetting resins. 2 (in full melamine
resin) a plastic made from melamine and used esp. for laminated
coatings. [melam (arbitrary) + AMINE]
n. a mental illness marked by depression and ill-founded fears.
[LL: see MELANCHOLY]
n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a pensive sadness. 2 a mental
depression. b a habitual or constitutional tendency to this. 3
hist. one of the four humours; black bile (see HUMOUR n. 5).
--adj. (of a person) sad, gloomy; (of a thing) saddening,
depressing; (of words, a tune, etc.) expressing sadness.
ЬЬmelancholic adj. melancholically adv. [ME f. OF melancolie
f. LL melancholia f. Gk melagkholia f. melas melanos black +
n. & adj. --n. 1 a member of the dominant Negroid people of
Melanesia, an island group in the W. Pacific. 2 the language of
this people. --adj. of or relating to this people or their
language. [Melanesia f. Gk melas black + nesos island]
m‚lange n. a mixture, a medley. [F f. m€ler mix (as MEDDLE)]
melanin n. a dark-brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, skin,
and iris of the eye, that is responsible for tanning of the skin
when exposed to sunlight. [Gk melas melanos black + -IN]
melanism n. an unusual darkening of body tissues caused by excessive
production of melanin.
melanoma n. a malignant tumour of melanin-forming cells, usu. in the
skin. [MELANIN + -OMA]
melanosis n. 1 = MELANISM. 2 a disorder in the body's production of
melanin. ЬЬmelanotic adj. [mod.L f. Gk (as MELANIN)]
Melba n. Ьdo a Melba Austral. sl. 1 return from retirement. 2 make
several farewell appearances. Melba sauce a sauce made from
pur‚ed raspberries thickened with icing sugar. Melba toast very
thin crisp toast. peach Melba a dish of ice-cream and peaches
with liqueur or sauce. [Dame Nellie Melba, Austral. operatic
soprano d. 1931]
meld(1) v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) (in rummy, canasta, etc.) lay
down or declare (one's cards) in order to score points. --n. a
completed set or run of cards in any of these games. [G melden
meld(2) v.tr. & intr. orig. US merge, blend, combine. [perh. f. MELT
m€l‚e n. (US melee) 1 a confused fight, skirmish, or scuffle. 2 a
muddle. [F (as MEDLEY)]
melic adj. (of a poem, esp. a Gk lyric) meant to be sung. [L melicus
f. Gk melikos f. melos song]
meliorism n. a doctrine that the world may be made better by human
effort. ЬЬmeliorist n. [L melior better + -ISM]
melisma n. (pl. melismata or melismas) Mus. a group of notes sung to
one syllable of text. ЬЬmelismatic adj. [Gk]
adj. yielding or producing honey. [L mellifer f. mel honey]
adj. (of a voice or words) pleasing, musical, flowing.
ЬЬmellifluence n. mellifluent adj. mellifluously adv.
mellifluousness n. [ME f. OF melliflue or LL mellifluus f. mel
honey + fluere flow]
mellow adj. & v. --adj. 1 (of sound, colour, light) soft and rich,
free from harshness. 2 (of character) softened or matured by
age or experience. 3 genial, jovial. 4 partly intoxicated. 5
(of fruit) soft, sweet, and juicy. 6 (of wine) well-matured,
smooth. 7 (of earth) rich, loamy. --v.tr. & intr. make or
become mellow. ЬЬmellowly adv. mellowness n. [ME, perh. f.
attrib. use of OE melu, melw- MEAL(2)]
melodeon n. (also melodion) 1 a small organ popular in the 19th c.,
similar to the harmonium. 2 a small German accordion, played
esp. by folk musicians. [MELODY + HARMONIUM with Graecized
melodic adj. 1 of or relating to melody. 2 having or producing melody.
Ьmelodic minor a scale with the sixth and seventh degrees raised
when ascending and lowered when descending. ЬЬmelodically adv.
[F m‚lodique f. LL melodicus f. Gk meloidikos (as MELODY)]
melodious adj. 1 of, producing, or having melody. 2 sweet-sounding.
ЬЬmelodiously adv. melodiousness n. [ME f. OF melodieus (as
melodist n. 1 a composer of melodies. 2 a singer.
melodize v. (also -ise) 1 intr. make a melody or melodies; make sweet
music. 2 tr. make melodious. ЬЬmelodizer n.
melodrama n. 1 a sensational dramatic piece with crude appeals to the
emotions and usu. a happy ending. 2 the genre of drama of this
type. 3 language, behaviour, or an occurrence suggestive of
this. 4 hist. a play with songs interspersed and with
orchestral music accompanying the action. ЬЬmelodramatic adj.
melodramatically adv. melodramatist n. melodramatize v.tr.
(also -ise). [earlier melodrame f. F m‚lodrame f. Gk melos
music + F drame DRAMA]
n.pl. melodramatic behaviour, action, or writing.
melody n. (pl. -ies) 1 an arrangement of single notes in a musically
expressive succession. 2 the principal part in harmonized
music. 3 a musical arrangement of words. 4 sweet music,
tunefulness. [ME f. OF melodie f. LL melodia f. Gk meloidia f.
melon n. 1 the sweet fruit of various gourds. 2 the gourd producing
this (honeydew melon; water melon). Ьcut the melon 1 decide a
question. 2 share abundant profits among a number of people.
[ME f. OF f. LL melo -onis abbr. of L melopepo f. Gk melopepon
f. melon apple + pepon gourd f. pepon ripe]
melt v. & n. --v. 1 intr. become liquefied by heat. 2 tr. change
to a liquid condition by heat. 3 tr. (as molten adj.) (usu. of
materials that require a great deal of heat to melt them)
liquefied by heat (molten lava; molten lead). 4 a intr. & tr.
dissolve. b intr. (of food) be easily dissolved in the mouth.
5 intr. a (of a person, feelings, the heart, etc.) be softened
as a result of pity, love, etc. b dissolve into tears. 6 tr.
soften (a person, feelings, the heart, etc.) (a look to melt a
heart of stone). 7 intr. (usu. foll. by into) change or merge
imperceptibly into another form or state (night melted into
dawn). 8 intr. (often foll. by away) (of a person) leave or
disappear unobtrusively (melted into the background; melted away
into the crowd). 9 intr. (usu. as melting adj.) (of sound) be
soft and liquid (melting chords). 10 intr. colloq. (of a
person) suffer extreme heat (I'm melting in this thick jumper).
--n. 1 liquid metal etc. 2 an amount melted at any one time.
3 the process or an instance of melting. Ьmelt away disappear
or make disappear by liquefaction. melt down 1 melt (esp. metal
articles) in order to reuse the raw material. 2 become liquid
and lose structure (cf. MELTDOWN). melting-point the
temperature at which any given solid will melt. melting-pot 1 a
pot in which metals etc. are melted and mixed. 2 a place where
races, theories, etc. are mixed, or an imaginary pool where
ideas are mixed together. melt water water formed by the
melting of snow and ice, esp. from a glacier. ЬЬmeltable adj. &
n. melter n. meltingly adv. [OE meltan, mieltan f. Gmc, rel.
meltdown n. the melting of (and consequent damage to) a structure, esp.
the overheated core of a nuclear reactor.
melton n. cloth with a close-cut nap, used for overcoats etc. [Melton
Mowbray in central England]
member n. 1 a person belonging to a society, team, etc. 2 (Member) a
person formally elected to take part in the proceedings of
certain organizations (Member of Parliament; Member of
Congress). 3 (also attrib.) a part or branch of a political
body (member State; a member of the EEC). 4 a constituent
portion of a complex structure. 5 a part of a sentence,
equation, group of figures, mathematical set, etc. 6 a any part
or organ of the body, esp. a limb. b = PENIS. 7 used in the
title awarded to a person admitted to (usu. the lowest grade
of) certain honours (Member of the British Empire). ЬЬmembered
adj. (also in comb.). memberless adj. [ME f. OF membre f. L
n. 1 being a member. 2 the number of members. 3 the body of
membrane n. 1 any pliable sheetlike structure acting as a boundary,
lining, or partition in an organism. 2 a thin pliable sheet or
skin of various kinds. ЬЬmembranaceous adj. membraneous adj.
membranous adj. [L membrana skin of body, parchment (as
n. archaic the penis. [L, = male member]
memento n. (pl. -oes or -os) an object kept as a reminder or a
souvenir of a person or an event. [L, imper. of meminisse
n. a warning or reminder of death (e.g. a skull). [L, =
remember you must die]
memo n. (pl. -os) colloq. memorandum. [abbr.]
memoir n. 1 a historical account or biography written from personal
knowledge or special sources. 2 (in pl.) an autobiography or a
written account of one's memory of certain events or people. 3
a an essay on a learned subject specially studied by the writer.
b (in pl.) the proceedings or transactions of a learned society
(Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society). ЬЬmemoirist n.
[F m‚moire (masc.), special use of m‚moire (fem.) MEMORY]
n.pl. 1 souvenirs of memorable events. 2 archaic memorable or
noteworthy things. [L, neut. pl. (as MEMORABLE)]
memorable adj. 1 worth remembering, not to be forgotten. 2 easily
remembered. ЬЬmemorability n. memorableness n. memorably adv.
[ME f. F m‚morable or L memorabilis f. memorare bring to mind
f. memor mindful]
n. (pl. memoranda or memorandums) 1 a note or record made for
future use. 2 an informal written message, esp. in business,
diplomacy, etc. 3 Law a document recording the terms of a
contract or other legal details. [ME f. L neut. sing. gerundive
of memorare: see MEMORABLE]
memorial n. & adj. --n. 1 an object, institution, or custom established
in memory of a person or event (the Albert Memorial). 2 (often
in pl.) hist. a statement of facts as the basis of a petition
etc.; a record; an informal diplomatic paper. --adj. intending
to commemorate a person or thing (memorial service). ЬMemorial
Day US a day on which those who died on active service are
remembered, usu. the last Monday in May. ЬЬmemorialist n. [ME
f. OF memorial or L memorialis (as MEMORY)]
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 commemorate. 2 address a memorial to (a
person or body).
n. a system or contrivance used to assist the memory. [mod.L,
= artificial memory]
memorize v.tr. (also -ise) commit to memory. ЬЬmemorizable adj.
memorization n. memorizer n.
memory n. (pl. -ies) 1 the faculty by which things are recalled to or
kept in the mind. 2 a this faculty in an individual (my memory
is beginning to fail). b one's store of things remembered
(buried deep in my memory). 3 a recollection or remembrance
(the memory of better times). 4 the storage capacity of a
computer or other electronic machinery. 5 the remembrance of a
person or thing (his mother's memory haunted him). 6 a the
reputation of a dead person (his memory lives on). b in
formulaic phrases used of a dead sovereign etc. (of blessed
memory). 7 the length of time over which the memory or memories
of any given person or group extends (within living memory;
within the memory of anyone still working here). 8 the act of
remembering (a deed worthy of memory). Ьcommit to memory learn
(a thing) so as to be able to recall it. from memory without
verification in books etc. in memory of to keep alive the
remembrance of. memory bank (or board) the memory device of a
computer etc. memory lane (usu. prec. by down, along) an
imaginary and sentimental journey into the past. memory mapping
Computing the allocation of peripheral devices to appear located
within the main memory of a computer. [ME f. OF memorie,
memoire f. L memoria f. memor mindful, remembering, rel. to
memsahib n. Anglo-Ind. hist. a European married woman in India, as
spoken of or to by Indians. [MA'AM + SAHIB]
men pl. of MAN.
menace n. & v. --n. 1 a threat. 2 a dangerous or obnoxious thing or
person. 3 joc. a pest, a nuisance. --v.tr. & intr. threaten,
esp. in a malignant or hostile manner. ЬЬmenacer n. menacingly
adv. [ME ult. f. L minax -acis threatening f. minari threaten]
m‚nage n. the members of a household. [OF manaige ult. f. L (as
m‚nage … trois
n. an arrangement in which three people live together, usu. a
married couple and the lover of one of them. [F, = household of
three (as MђNAGE)]
menagerie n. 1 a collection of wild animals in captivity for exhibition
etc. 2 the place where these are housed. [F m‚nagerie (as
n. one of the K vitamins, produced by bacteria found in the
large intestine, essential for the blood-clotting process. Also
called vitamin K. [chem. deriv. of methyl- naphtho quinone]
menarche n. the onset of first menstruation. [mod.L formed as MENO- +
Gk arkhe beginning]
mend v. & n. --v. 1 tr. restore to a sound condition; repair (a
broken article, a damaged road, torn clothes, etc.). 2 intr.
regain health. 3 tr. improve (mend matters). 4 tr. add fuel to
(a fire). --n. a darn or repair in material etc. (a mend in my
shirt). Ьmend one's fences make peace with a person. mend
one's manners improve one's behaviour. mend or end improve or
abolish. mend one's pace go faster; alter one's pace to
another's. mend one's ways reform, improve one's habits. on
the mend improving in health or condition. ЬЬmendable adj.
mender n. [ME f. AF mender f. amender AMEND]
adj. lying, untruthful. ЬЬmendaciously adv. mendacity n.
(pl. -ies). [L mendax -dacis perh. f. mendum fault]
n. Chem. an artificially made transuranic radioactive metallic
element. °Symb.: Md. [D. I. Mendeleev, Russ. chemist d. 1907]
Mendelism n. the theory of heredity based on the recurrence of certain
inherited characteristics transmitted by genes. ЬЬMendelian
adj. & n. [G. J. Mendel, Austrian botanist d. 1884 + -ISM]
mendicant adj. & n. --adj. 1 begging. 2 (of a friar) living solely on
alms. --n. 1 a beggar. 2 a mendicant friar. ЬЬmendicancy n.
mendicity n. [L mendicare beg f. mendicus beggar f. mendum
mending n. 1 the action of a person who mends. 2 things, esp. clothes,
to be mended.
menfolk n.pl. 1 men in general. 2 the men of one's family.
menhaden n. any large herring-like fish of the genus Brevoortia, of the
E. coast of N. America, yielding valuable oil and used for
manure. [Algonquian: cf. Narragansett munnawhattea–g]
menhir n. Archaeol. a tall upright usu. prehistoric monumental stone.
[Breton men stone + hir long]
menial adj. & n. --adj. 1 (esp. of unskilled domestic work)
degrading, servile. 2 usu. derog. (of a servant) domestic.
--n. 1 a menial servant. 2 a servile person. ЬЬmenially adv.
[ME f. OF meinee household]
n. an inflammation of the meninges due to infection by viruses
or bacteria. ЬЬmeningitic adj.
meninx n. (pl. meninges) (usu. in pl.) any of the three membranes
that line the skull and vertebral canal and enclose the brain
and spinal cord (dura mater, arachnoid, pia mater). ЬЬmeningeal
adj. [mod.L f. Gk menigx -iggos membrane]
meniscus n. (pl. menisci) 1 Physics the curved upper surface of a
liquid in a tube. 2 a lens that is convex on one side and
concave on the other. 3 Math. a crescent-shaped figure.
ЬЬmeniscoid adj. [mod.L f. Gk meniskos crescent, dimin. of mene
Mennonite n. a member of a Protestant sect originating in Friesland in
the 16th c., emphasizing adult baptism and rejecting Church
organization, military service, and public office. [Menno
Simons, its founder, d. 1561]
meno- comb. form menstruation. [Gk men menos month]
menology n. (pl. -ies) a calendar, esp. that of the Greek Church, with
biographies of the saints. [mod.L menologium f. eccl.Gk
menologion f. men month + logos account]
menopause n. 1 the ceasing of menstruation. 2 the period in a woman's
life (usu. between 45 and 50) when this occurs (see also male
menopause). ЬЬmenopausal adj. [mod.L menopausis (as MENO-,
menorah n. a seven-armed candelabrum used in Jewish worship, esp. as a
symbol of Judaism. [Heb., = candlestick]
n. abnormally heavy bleeding at menstruation. [MENO- + stem of
Gk rhegnumi burst]
n. ordinary flow of blood at menstruation. [MENO- + Gk rhoia
f. rheo flow]
menses n.pl. 1 blood and other materials discharged from the uterus at
menstruation. 2 the time of menstruation. [L, pl. of mensis
Menshevik n. hist. a member of the non-Leninist wing of the Russian
Social Democratic Workers' Party (cf. BOLSHEVIK). [Russ. Men'
shevik a member of the minority (men' she less)]
mens rea n. criminal intent; the knowledge of wrongdoing. [L, = guilty
menstrual adj. of or relating to the menses or menstruation. Ьmenstrual
cycle the process of ovulation and menstruation in female
primates. [ME f. L menstrualis f. mensis month]
n. the process of discharging blood and other materials from
the uterus in sexually mature non-pregnant women at intervals of
about one lunar month until the menopause.
adj. 1 of or relating to the menses. 2 menstruating. [ME f.
OF menstrueus or LL menstruosus (as MENSTRUAL)]
menstruum n. (pl. menstrua) a solvent. [ME f. L, neut. of menstruus
monthly f. mensis month f. the alchemical parallel between
transmutation into gold and the supposed action of menses on the
adj. 1 measurable, having fixed limits. 2 Mus. = MENSURAL 2.
[F mensurable or LL mensurabilis f. mensurare to measure f. L
mensural adj. 1 of or involving measure. 2 Mus. of or involving a fixed
rhythm or notes of definite duration (cf. PLAINSONG). [L
mensuralis f. mensura MEASURE]
n. 1 measuring. 2 Math. the measuring of geometric magnitudes
such as the lengths of lines, areas of surfaces, and volumes of
solids. [LL mensuratio (as MENSURABLE)]
menswear n. clothes for men.
-ment suffix 1 forming nouns expressing the means or result of the
action of a verb (abridgement; embankment). 2 forming nouns
from adjectives (merriment; oddment). [from or after F f. L
mental adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or in the mind. 2 done by the mind. 3
colloq. a insane. b crazy, wild, eccentric (is mental about
pop music). --n. colloq. a mental patient. Ьmental age the
degree of a person's mental development expressed as an age at
which the same degree is attained by an average person. mental
arithmetic arithmetic performed in the mind. mental asylum (or
home or hospital or institution) an establishment for the care
of mental patients. mental cruelty the infliction of suffering
on another's mind, esp. Law as grounds for divorce. mental
defective esp. US a person with impaired mental abilities.
mental deficiency imperfect mental development leading to
abnormally low intelligence. mental illness a disorder of the
mind. mental nurse a nurse dealing with mentally ill patients.
mental patient a sufferer from mental illness. mental
reservation a qualification tacitly added in making a statement
etc. ЬЬmentally adv. [ME f. OF mental or LL mentalis f. L mens
mentalism n. 1 Philos. the theory that physical and psychological
phenomena are ultimately only explicable in terms of a creative
and interpretative mind. 2 Psychol. the primitive tendency to
personify in spirit form the forces of nature, or endow inert
objects with the quality of 'soul'. ЬЬmentalist n. mentalistic
mentality n. (pl. -ies) 1 mental character or disposition. 2 kind or
degree of intelligence. 3 what is in or of the mind.
mentation n. 1 mental action. 2 state of mind. [L mens -ntis mind]
menthol n. a mint-tasting organic alcohol found in oil of peppermint
etc., used as a flavouring and to relieve local pain. [G f. L
adj. treated with or containing menthol.
mention v. & n. --v.tr. 1 refer to briefly. 2 specify by name. 3
reveal or disclose (do not mention this to anyone). 4 (in
dispatches) award (a person) a minor honour for meritorious,
usu. gallant, military service. --n. 1 a reference, esp. by
name, to a person or thing. 2 (in dispatches) a military honour
awarded for outstanding conduct. Ьdon't mention it said in
polite dismissal of an apology or thanks. make mention (or no
mention) of refer (or not refer) to. not to mention introducing
a fact or thing of secondary or (as a rhetorical device) of
primary importance. ЬЬmentionable adj. [OF f. L mentio -onis
f. the root of mens mind]
mentor n. an experienced and trusted adviser. [F f. L f. Gk Mentor
adviser of the young Telemachus in Homer's Odyssey and F‚nelon's
menu n. 1 a a list of dishes available in a restaurant etc. b a
list of items to be served at a meal. 2 Computing a list of
options showing the commands or facilities available.
Ьmenu-driven (of a program or computer) used by making
selections from menus. [F, = detailed list, f. L minutus
n. 1 an evil spirit to whom Faust, in the German legend, sold
his soul. 2 a fiendish person. ЬЬMephistophelean adj.
Mephistophelian adj. [G (16th c.), of unkn. orig.]
mephitis n. 1 a noxious emanation, esp. from the earth. 2 a
foul-smelling or poisonous stench. ЬЬmephitic adj. [L]
-mer comb. form denoting a substance of a specified class, esp. a
polymer (dimer; isomer; tautomer). [Gk meros part, share]
meranti n. a white, red, or yellow hardwood timber from any of various
Malayan trees of the genus Shorea. [Malay]
adj. 1 of trade, trading. 2 commercial. 3 mercenary, fond of
bargaining. Ьmercantile marine shipping employed in commerce
not war. [F f. It. f. mercante MERCHANT]
n. an old economic theory that money is the only form of
wealth. ЬЬmercantilist n.
mercaptan n. = THIOL. [mod.L mercurium captans capturing mercury]
n. (also Mercator's projection) a projection of a map of the
world on to a cylinder so that all the parallels of latitude
have the same length as the equator, first published in 1569 and
used esp. for marine charts and certain climatological maps.
[G. Mercator (Latinized f. Kremer), Flemish-born geographer d.
mercenary adj. & n. --adj. primarily concerned with money or other reward
(mercenary motives). --n. (pl. -ies) a hired soldier in
foreign service. ЬЬmercenariness n. [ME f. L mercenarius f.
merces -edis reward]
mercer n. Brit. a dealer in textile fabrics, esp. silk and other
costly materials. ЬЬmercery n. (pl. -ies). [ME f. AF mercer,
OF mercier ult. f. L merx mercis goods]
mercerize v.tr. (also -ise) treat (cotton fabric or thread) under tension
with caustic alkali to give greater strength and impart lustre.
[J. Mercer, alleged inventor of the process d. 1866]
n. & v. --n. goods for sale. --v. 1 intr. trade, traffic. 2
tr. trade or traffic in. 3 tr. a put on the market, promote
the sale of (goods etc.). b advertise, publicize (an idea or
person). ЬЬmerchandisable adj. merchandiser n. [ME f. OF
marchandise f. marchand: see MERCHANT]
merchant n. 1 a wholesale trader, esp. with foreign countries. 2 esp.
US & Sc. a retail trader. 3 colloq. usu. derog. a person
showing a partiality for a specified activity or practice (speed
merchant). Ьmerchant bank esp. Brit. a bank dealing in
commercial loans and finance. merchant banker a member of a
merchant bank. merchant marine US = merchant navy. merchant
navy a nation's commercial shipping. merchant prince a wealthy
merchant. merchant ship = MERCHANTMAN. [ME f. OF marchand,
marchant ult. f. L mercari trade f. merx mercis merchandise]
adj. saleable, marketable. [ME f. merchant (v.) f. OF
marchander f. marchand: see MERCHANT]
n. (pl. -men) a ship conveying merchandise.
merciful adj. having or showing or feeling mercy. ЬЬmercifulness n.
adv. 1 in a merciful manner. 2 (qualifying a whole sentence)
fortunately (mercifully, the sun came out).
merciless adj. 1 pitiless. 2 showing no mercy. ЬЬmercilessly adv.
mercurial adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a person) sprightly, ready-witted,
volatile. 2 of or containing mercury. 3 (Mercurial) of the
planet Mercury. --n. a drug containing mercury. ЬЬmercurialism
n. mercuriality n. mercurially adv. [ME f. OF mercuriel or L
mercurialis (as MERCURY)]
mercury n. 1 Chem. a silvery-white heavy liquid metallic element
occurring naturally in cinnabar and used in barometers,
thermometers, and amalgams; quicksilver. °Symb.: Hg. 2
(Mercury) the planet nearest to the sun. 3 any plant of the
genus Mercurialis, esp. M. perenne. Ьmercury vapour lamp a
lamp in which light is produced by an electric discharge through
mercury vapour. ЬЬmercuric adj. mercurous adj. [ME f. L
Mercurius messenger of the gods and god of traders f. merx
mercy n. & int. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 compassion or forbearance shown
to enemies or offenders in one's power. 2 the quality of
compassion. 3 an act of mercy. 4 (attrib.) administered or
performed out of mercy or pity for a suffering person (mercy
killing). 5 something to be thankful for (small mercies).
--int. expressing surprise or fear. Ьat the mercy of 1 wholly
in the power of. 2 liable to danger or harm from. have mercy
on (or upon) show mercy to. mercy flight the transporting by
air of an injured or sick person from a remote area to a
hospital. [ME f. OF merci f. L merces -edis reward, in LL pity,
mere(1) attrib.adj. (merest) that is solely or no more or better than
what is specified (a mere boy; no mere theory). Ьmere right Law
a right in theory. ЬЬmerely adv. [ME f. AF meer, OF mier f. L
mere(2) n. archaic or poet. a lake or pond. [OE f. Gmc]
mere(3) n. a Maori war-club, esp. one made of greenstone. [Maori]
adj. 1 (of decorations, literary style, etc.) showily but
falsely attractive. 2 of or befitting a prostitute.
ЬЬmeretriciously adv. meretriciousness n. [L meretricius f.
meretrix -tricis prostitute f. mereri be hired]
merganser n. any of various diving fish-eating northern ducks of the
genus Mergus, with a long narrow serrated hooked bill. Also
called SAWBILL. [mod.L f. L mergus diver f. mergere dive +
merge v. 1 tr. & intr. (often foll. by with) a combine or be
combined. b join or blend gradually. 2 intr. & tr. (foll. by
in) lose or cause to lose character and identity in (something
else). 3 tr. (foll. by in) embody (a title or estate) in (a
larger one). ЬЬmergence n. [L mergere mers- dip, plunge,
partly through legal AF merger]
merger n. 1 the combining of two commercial companies etc. into one.
2 a merging, esp. of one estate in another. 3 Law the absorbing
of a minor offence in a greater one. [AF (as MERGE)]
meridian n. & adj. --n. 1 a circle passing through the celestial poles
and zenith of any place on the earth's surface. 2 a a circle of
constant longitude, passing through a given place and the
terrestrial poles. b the corresponding line on a map. 3
archaic the point at which a sun or star attains its highest
altitude. 4 prime; full splendour. --adj. 1 of noon. 2 of
the period of greatest splendour, vigour, etc. [ME f. OF
meridien or L meridianus (adj.) f. meridies midday f. medius
middle + dies day]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or in the south (esp. of Europe). 2 of
or relating to a meridian. --n. an inhabitant of the south
(esp. of France). [ME f. OF f. LL meridionalis irreg. f. L
meridies: see MERIDIAN]
meringue n. 1 a confection of sugar, the white of eggs, etc., baked
crisp. 2 a small cake or shell of this, usu. decorated or
filled with whipped cream etc. [F, of unkn. orig.]
merino n. (pl. -os) 1 (in full merino sheep) a variety of sheep with
long fine wool. 2 a soft woollen or wool-and-cotton material
like cashmere, orig. of merino wool. 3 a fine woollen yarn.
[Sp., of uncert. orig.]
meristem n. Bot. a plant tissue consisting of actively dividing cells
forming new tissue. ЬЬmeristematic adj. [Gk meristos divisible
f. merizo divide f. meros part, after xylem]
merit n. & v. --n. 1 the quality of deserving well. 2 excellence,
worth. 3 (usu. in pl.) a a thing that entitles one to reward or
gratitude. b esp. Law intrinsic rights and wrongs (the merits
of a case). 4 Theol. good deeds as entitling to a future
reward. --v.tr. (merited, meriting) deserve or be worthy of
(reward, punishment, consideration, etc.). Ьmake a merit of
regard or represent (one's own conduct) as praiseworthy. on its
merits with regard only to its intrinsic worth. Order of Merit
Brit. an order founded in 1902, for distinguished achievement.
[ME f. OF merite f. L meritum price, value, = past part. of
mereri earn, deserve]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 government by persons selected competitively
according to merit. 2 a group of persons selected in this way.
3 a society governed by meritocracy.
adj. 1 (of a person or act) having merit; deserving reward,
praise, or gratitude. 2 deserving commendation for thoroughness
etc. ЬЬmeritoriously adv. meritoriousness n. [ME f. L
meritorius f. mereri merit- earn]
merle n. Sc. or archaic a blackbird. [ME f. F f. L merula]
merlin n. a small European or N. American falcon, Falco columbarius,
that hunts small birds. [ME f. AF merilun f. OF esmerillon
augment. f. esmeril f. Frank.]
merlon n. the solid part of an embattled parapet between two
embrasures. [F f. It. merlone f. merlo battlement]
mermaid n. an imaginary half-human sea creature, with the head and
trunk of a woman and the tail of a fish. [ME f. MERE(2) in
obs. sense 'sea' + MAID]
merman n. (pl. -men) the male equivalent of a mermaid.
mero- comb. form partly, partial. [Gk meros part]
-merous comb. form esp. Bot. having so many parts (dimerous; 5-merous).
[Gk (as MERO-)]
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to the Frankish dynasty founded
by Clovis and reigning in Gaul and Germany c.500-750. --n. a
member of this dynasty. [F m‚rovingien f. med.L Merovingi f. L
Meroveus name of the reputed founder]
merriment n. 1 exuberant enjoyment; being merry. 2 mirth, fun.
merry adj. (merrier, merriest) 1 a joyous. b full of laughter or
gaiety. 2 Brit. colloq. slightly drunk. Ьmake merry 1 be
festive; enjoy oneself. 2 (foll. by over) make fun of. merry
andrew a mountebank's assistant; a clown or buffoon. merry
thought esp. Brit. the wishbone of a bird. play merry hell
with see HELL. ЬЬmerrily adv. merriness n. [OE myrige f. Gmc]
n. 1 a revolving machine with wooden horses or cars for riding
on at a fair etc. 2 a cycle of bustling activities.
n. festivity, fun. ЬЬmerrymaker n.
mesa n. US an isolated flat-topped hill with steep sides, found in
landscapes with horizontal strata. [Sp., lit. table, f. L
n. a marriage with a person of a lower social position. [F (as
mescal n. 1 a maguey. b liquor obtained from this. 2 a peyote
cactus. Ьmescal buttons disc-shaped dried tops from the peyote
cactus, eaten or chewed as an intoxicant. [Sp. mezcal f.
mescaline n. (also mescalin) a hallucinogenic alkaloid present in mescal
Mesdames pl. of MADAME.
pl. of MADEMOISELLE.
n. any of various succulent plants of the genus
Mesembryanthemum of S. Africa, having daisy-like flowers in a
wide range of bright colours that fully open in sunlight.
[mod.L f. Gk mesembria noon + anthemon flower]
n. the part of the brain developing from the middle of the
primitive or embryonic brain. Also called MIDBRAIN. [Gk mesos
middle + encephalon brain: see ENCEPHALIC]
mesentery n. (pl. -ies) a double layer of peritoneum attaching the
stomach, small intestine, pancreas, spleen, and other abdominal
organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen. ЬЬmesenteric adj.
mesenteritis n. [med.L mesenterium f. Gk mesenterion (as MESO-,
mesh n. & v. --n. 1 a network fabric or structure. 2 each of the
open spaces or interstices between the strands of a net or sieve
etc. 3 (in pl.) a a network. b a snare. 4 (in pl.) Physiol.
an interlaced structure. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by with)
(of the teeth of a wheel) be engaged (with others). 2 intr. be
harmonious. 3 tr. catch in a net. Ьin mesh (of the teeth of
wheels) engaged. [earlier meish etc. f. MDu. maesche f. Gmc]
mesial adj. Anat. of, in, or directed towards the middle line of a
body. ЬЬmesially adv. [irreg. f. Gk mesos middle]
mesmerism n. 1 Psychol. a a hypnotic state produced in a person by
another's influence over the will and nervous system. b a
doctrine concerning this. c an influence producing this. 2
fascination. ЬЬmesmeric adj. mesmerically adv. mesmerist n.
[F. A. Mesmer, Austrian physician d. 1815]
mesmerize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 Psychol. hypnotize; exercise mesmerism on.
2 fascinate, spellbind. ЬЬmesmerization n. mesmerizer n.
mesne adj. Law intermediate. Ьmesne lord hist. a lord holding an
estate from a superior feudal lord. mesne process proceedings
in a suit intervening between a primary and final process.
mesne profits profits received from an estate by a tenant
between two dates. [ME f. law F, var. of AF meen, MEAN(3): cf.
meso- comb. form middle, intermediate. [Gk mesos middle]
mesoblast n. Biol. the middle germ-layer of an embryo.
mesoderm n. Biol. = MESOBLAST. [MESO- + Gk derma skin]
adj. Archaeol. of or concerning the Stone Age between the
palaeolithic and neolithic periods. [MESO- + Gk lithos stone]
mesomorph n. a person with a compact and muscular build of body (cf.
ECTOMORPH, ENDOMORPH). ЬЬmesomorphic adj. [MESO- + Gk morphe
meson n. Physics any of a class of elementary particles believed to
participate in the forces that hold nucleons together in the
atomic nucleus. ЬЬmesic adj. mesonic adj. [earlier mesotron:
cf. MESO-, -ON]
mesophyll n. the inner tissue of a leaf. [MESO- + Gk phullon leaf]
mesophyte n. a plant needing only a moderate amount of water.
n. the region of the atmosphere extending from the top of the
stratosphere to an altitude of about 50 miles.
Mesozoic adj. & n. Geol. --adj. of or relating to an era of geological
time marked by the development of dinosaurs, and with evidence
of the first mammals, birds, and flowering plants. °Cf.
Appendix II. --n. this era (cf. CENOZOIC, PALAEOZOIC). [MESO-
+ Gk zoion animal]
mesquite n. (also mesquit) any N. American leguminous tree of the genus
Prosopis, esp. P. juliflora. Ьmesquite bean a pod from the
mesquite, used as fodder. [Mex. Sp. mezquite]
mess n. & v. --n. 1 a dirty or untidy state of things (the room is
a mess). 2 a state of confusion, embarrassment, or trouble. 3
something causing a mess, e.g. spilt liquid etc. 4 a domestic
animal's excreta. 5 a a company of persons who take meals
together, esp. in the armed forces. b a place where such meals
or recreation take place communally. c a meal taken there. 6
derog. a disagreeable concoction or medley. 7 a liquid or mixed
food for hounds etc. 8 a portion of liquid or pulpy food. --v.
1 tr. (often foll. by up) a make a mess of; dirty. b muddle;
make into a state of confusion. 2 intr. (foll. by with)
interfere with. 3 intr. take one's meals. 4 intr. colloq.
defecate. Ьmake a mess of bungle (an undertaking). mess about
(or around) 1 act desultorily. 2 colloq. make things awkward
for; cause arbitrary inconvenience to (a person). mess-hall a
military dining area. mess-jacket a short close-fitting coat
worn at the mess. mess kit a soldier's cooking and eating
utensils. mess of pottage a material comfort etc. for which
something higher is sacrificed (Gen. 25:29-34). mess tin a
small container as part of a mess kit. [ME f. OF mes portion of
food f. LL missus course at dinner, past part. of mittere send]
message n. & v. --n. 1 an oral or written communication sent by one
person to another. 2 an inspired or significant communication
from a prophet, writer, or preacher. 3 a mission or errand. 4
(in pl.) Sc. & N.Engl. things bought; shopping. --v.tr. 1 send
as a message. 2 transmit (a plan etc.) by signalling etc. Ьget
the message colloq. understand what is meant. message stick
Austral. a stick carved with significant marks, carried as
identification by Aboriginal messengers. [ME f. OF ult. f. L
mittere miss- send]
pl. of MONSEIGNEUR.
messenger n. 1 a person who carries a message. 2 a person employed to
carry messages. ЬKing's (or Queen's) Messenger a courier in the
diplomatic service. messenger RNA a form of RNA carrying
genetic information from DNA to a ribosome. °Abbr.: mRNA. [ME
& OF messager (as MESSAGE): -n- as in harbinger, passenger,
Messiah n. 1 a liberator or would-be liberator of an oppressed people
or country. 2 a the promised deliverer of the Jews. b Christ
regarded as this. ЬЬMessiahship n. [ME f. OF Messie ult. f.
Heb. masiah anointed]
Messianic adj. 1 of the Messiah. 2 inspired by hope or belief in a
Messiah. ЬЬMessianism n. [F messianique (as MESSIAH) after
Messieurs pl. of MONSIEUR.
messmate n. a person with whom one regularly takes meals, esp. in the
Messrs pl. of MR. [abbr. of MESSIEURS]
messuage n. Law a dwelling-house with outbuildings and land assigned to
its use. [ME f. AF: perh. an alternative form of mesnage
messy adj. (messier, messiest) 1 untidy or dirty. 2 causing or
accompanied by a mess. 3 difficult to deal with; full of
awkward complications. ЬЬmessily adv. messiness n.
mestizo n. (pl. -os; fem. mestiza, pl. -as) a Spaniard or Portuguese
of mixed race, esp. the offspring of a Spaniard and an American
Indian. [Sp. ult. f. L mixtus past part. of miscere mix]
met(1) past and past part. of MEET(1).
met(2) adj. colloq. 1 meteorological. 2 metropolitan. 3 (the Met) a
(in full the Met Office) (in the UK) the Meteorological Office.
b the Metropolitan Police in London. c the Metropolitan Opera
House in New York. [abbr.]
meta- comb. form (usu. met- before a vowel or h) 1 denoting change of
position or condition (metabolism). 2 denoting position: a
behind. b after or beyond (metaphysics; metacarpus). c of a
higher or second-order kind (metalanguage). 3 Chem. a relating
to two carbon atoms separated by one other in a benzene ring. b
relating to a compound formed by dehydration (metaphosphate).
[Gk meta-, met-, meth- f. meta with, after]
n. all the chemical processes that occur within a living
organism, resulting in energy production (destructive
metabolism) and growth (constructive metabolism). ЬЬmetabolic
adj. metabolically adv. [Gk metabole change (as META-, bole f.
n. Physiol. a substance formed in or necessary for metabolism.
v.tr. & intr. (also -ise) process or be processed by
metabolism. ЬЬmetabolizable adj.
n. (pl. metacarpi) 1 the set of five bones of the hand that
connects the wrist to the fingers. 2 this part of the hand.
ЬЬmetacarpal adj. [mod.L f. Gk metakarpon (as META-, CARPUS)]
n. (US metacenter) the point of intersection between a line
(vertical in equilibrium) through the centre of gravity of a
floating body and a vertical line through the centre of pressure
after a slight angular displacement, which must be above the
centre of gravity to ensure stability. ЬЬmetacentric adj. [F
m‚tacentre (as META-, CENTRE)]
metage n. 1 the official measuring of a load of coal etc. 2 the duty
paid for this. [METE(1) + -AGE]
n. the alternation of generations between sexual and asexual
reproduction. ЬЬmetagenetic adj. [mod.L (as META-, GENESIS)]
metal n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a any of a class of chemical elements
such as gold, silver, iron, and tin, usu. lustrous ductile
solids and good conductors of heat and electricity and forming
basic oxides. b an alloy of any of these. 2 material used for
making glass, in a molten state. 3 Heraldry gold or silver as
tincture. 4 (in pl.) the rails of a railway line. 5 =
road-metal (see ROAD(1)). --adj. made of metal. --v.tr.
(metalled, metalling; US metaled, metaling) 1 provide or fit
with metal. 2 Brit. make or mend (a road) with road-metal.
Ьmetal detector an electronic device giving a signal when it
locates metal. metal fatigue fatigue (see FATIGUE n. 2) in
metal. [ME f. OF metal or L metallum f. Gk metallon mine]
n. 1 a form of language used to discuss a language. 2 a system
of propositions about propositions.
metallic adj. 1 of, consisting of, or characteristic of metal or metals.
2 sounding sharp and ringing, like struck metal. 3 having the
sheen or lustre of metals. ЬЬmetallically adv. [L metallicus
f. Gk metallikos (as METAL)]
metallize v.tr. (also -ise; US metalize) 1 render metallic. 2 coat with
a thin layer of metal. ЬЬmetallization n.
n. the descriptive science of the structure and properties of
metals. ЬЬmetallographic adj. metallographical adj.
metalloid adj. & n. --adj. having the form or appearance of a metal.
--n. any element intermediate in properties between metals and
non-metals, e.g. boron, silicon, and germanium.
n. the science concerned with the production, purification, and
properties of metals and their application. ЬЬmetallurgic adj.
metallurgical adj. metallurgically adv. metallurgist n. [Gk
metallon metal + -ourgia working]
metalwork n. 1 the art of working in metal. 2 metal objects
collectively. ЬЬmetalworker n.
metamere n. Zool. each of several similar segments, that contain the
same internal structures, of an animal body. [META- + Gk meros
metameric adj. 1 Chem. having the same proportional composition and
molecular weight, but different functional groups and chemical
properties. 2 Zool. of or relating to metameres. ЬЬmetamer n.
adj. 1 of or marked by metamorphosis. 2 Geol. (of rock) that
has undergone transformation by natural agencies such as heat
and pressure. ЬЬmetamorphism n. [META- + Gk morphe form]
v.tr. 1 change in form. 2 (foll. by to, into) a turn (into a
new form). b change the nature of. [F m‚tamorphoser f.
n. (pl. metamorphoses) 1 a change of form (by natural or
supernatural means). 2 a changed form. 3 a change of
character, conditions, etc. 4 Zool. the transformation between
an immature form and an adult form, e.g. from a pupa to an
insect, or from a tadpole to a frog. [L f. Gk metamorphosis f.
metamorphoo transform (as META-, morphoo f. morphe form)]
metaphase n. Biol. the stage of meiotic or mitotic cell division when
the chromosomes become attached to the spindle fibres.
metaphor n. 1 the application of a name or descriptive term or phrase to
an object or action to which it is imaginatively but not
literally applicable (e.g. a glaring error). 2 an instance of
this. ЬЬmetaphoric adj. metaphorical adj. metaphorically adv.
[F m‚taphore or L metaphora f. Gk metaphora f. metaphero
n. & v. --n. literal translation. --v.tr. put into other
words. ЬЬmetaphrastic adj. [mod.L metaphrasis f. Gk
metaphrasis f. metaphrazo translate]
n. a system of metaphysics.
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to metaphysics. 2 based on
abstract general reasoning. 3 excessively subtle or
theoretical. 4 incorporeal; supernatural. 5 visionary. 6 (of
poetry, esp. in the 17th c. in England) characterized by
subtlety of thought and complex imagery. --n. (the
Metaphysicals) the metaphysical poets. ЬЬmetaphysically adv.
n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) 1 the theoretical philosophy of
being and knowing. 2 the philosophy of mind. 3 colloq.
abstract or subtle talk; mere theory. ЬЬmetaphysician n.
metaphysicize v.intr. [ME metaphysic f. OF metaphysique f.
med.L metaphysica ult. f. Gk ta meta ta phusika the things after
the Physics, from the sequence of Aristotle's works]
n. Physiol. an abnormal change in the nature of a tissue.
ЬЬmetaplastic adj. [mod.L f. G Metaplase f. Gk metaplasis (as
META-, plasis f. plasso to mould)]
n. the study of the nature and functions of the mind beyond
what can be studied experimentally. ЬЬmetapsychological adj.
adj. 1 (of a state of equilibrium) stable only under small
disturbances. 2 passing to another state so slowly as to seem
stable. ЬЬmetastability n.
n. (pl. metastases) Physiol. 1 the transference of a bodily
function, disease, etc., from one part or organ to another. 2
the transformation of chemical compounds into others in the
process of assimilation by an organism. ЬЬmetastasize v.intr.
(also -ise). metastatic adj. [LL f. Gk f. methistemi change]
n. (pl. metatarsi) 1 the part of the foot between the ankle
and the toes. 2 the set of bones in this. ЬЬmetatarsal adj.
[mod.L (as META-, TARSUS)]
n. (pl. metatheses) 1 Gram. the transposition of sounds or
letters in a word. 2 Chem. the interchange of atoms or groups
of atoms between two molecules. 3 an instance of either of
these. ЬЬmetathetic adj. metathetical adj. [LL f. Gk
metazoan n. & adj. Zool. --n. any animal of the subkingdom Metazoa,
having multicellular and differentiated tissues. --adj. of or
relating to the Metazoans. [Metazoa f. Gk META- + zoia pl. of
mete(1) v.tr. 1 (usu. foll. by out) literary apportion or allot (a
punishment or reward). 2 poet. or Bibl. measure. Ьmete-wand
(or -yard) a standard of estimation. [OE metan f. Gmc., rel. to
mete(2) n. a boundary or boundary stone. [ME f. OF f. L meta boundary,
n. (pl. -psychoses) 1 the supposed transmigration of the soul
of a human being or animal at death into a new body of the same
or a different species. 2 an instance of this.
ЬЬmetempsychosist n. [LL f. Gk metempsukhosis (as META-,
EN-(2), psukhe soul)]
meteor n. 1 a small body of matter from outer space that becomes
incandescent as a result of friction with the earth's
atmosphere. 2 a streak of light emanating from a meteor.
Ьmeteor shower a group of meteors appearing to come from one
point in the sky. [ME f. mod.L meteorum f. Gk meteoron neut. of
meteoros lofty, (as META-, aeiro raise)]
meteoric adj. 1 a of or relating to the atmosphere. b dependent on
atmospheric conditions. 2 of meteors. 3 rapid like a meteor;
dazzling, transient (meteoric rise to fame). Ьmeteoric stone a
meteorite. ЬЬmeteorically adv.
meteorite n. a fallen meteor, or fragment of natural rock or metal, that
reaches the earth's surface from outer space. ЬЬmeteoritic adj.
n. an apparatus that records several meteorological phenomena
at the same time. [F m‚t‚orographe (as METEOR, -GRAPH)]
meteoroid n. any small body moving in the solar system that becomes
visible as it passes through the earth's atmosphere as a meteor.
n. 1 the study of the processes and phenomena of the
atmosphere, esp. as a means of forecasting the weather. 2 the
atmospheric character of a region. ЬЬmeteorological adj.
meteorologically adv. meteorologist n. [Gk meteorologia (as
meter(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a person or thing that measures, esp. an
instrument for recording a quantity of gas, electricity, etc.
supplied, present, or needed. 2 = parking-meter (see PARK).
--v.tr. measure by means of a meter. [ME f. METE(1) + -ER(1)]
meter(2) US var. of METRE(1).
meter(3) US var. of METRE(2).
-meter comb. form 1 forming nouns denoting measuring instruments
(barometer). 2 Prosody forming nouns denoting lines of poetry
with a specified number of measures (pentameter).
methadone n. a potent narcotic analgesic drug used to relieve severe
pain, as a linctus to suppress coughs, and as a substitute for
morphine or heroin. [6-di methyl amino-4,4- diphenyl-3-heptan
n. an amphetamine derivative with quicker and longer action,
used as a stimulant. [METHYL + AMPHETAMINE]
methanal n. Chem. = FORMALDEHYDE. [METHANE + ALDEHYDE]
methane n. Chem. a colourless odourless inflammable gaseous
hydrocarbon, the simplest in the alkane series, and the main
constituent of natural gas. °Chem. formula: CH. [METHYL +
n. Chem. = FORMIC ACID. [METHANE + -IC]
methanol n. Chem. a colourless volatile inflammable liquid, used as a
solvent. °Chem. formula: CHOH. Also called methyl alcohol.
[METHANE + ALCOHOL]
methinks v.intr. (past methought) archaic it seems to me. [OE me
thyncth f. me dative of ME(1) + thyncth 3rd sing. of thyncan
n. Biochem. an amino acid containing sulphur and an important
constituent of proteins. [METHYL + Gk theion sulphur]
metho n. (pl. -os) Austral. sl. 1 methylated spirit. 2 a person
addicted to drinking methylated spirit. [abbr.]
method n. 1 a special form of procedure esp. in any branch of mental
activity. 2 orderliness; regular habits. 3 the orderly
arrangement of ideas. 4 a scheme of classification. 5 Theatr.
a technique of acting based on the actor's thorough emotional
identification with the character. Ьmethod in one's madness
sense in what appears to be foolish or strange behaviour. [F
m‚thode or L methodus f. Gk methodos pursuit of knowledge (as
META-, hodos way)]
adj. (also methodic) characterized by method or order.
ЬЬmethodically adv. [LL methodicus f. Gk methodikos (as
Methodist n. 1 a member of any of several Protestant religious bodies
(now united) originating in the 18th-c. evangelistic movement of
Charles and John Wesley and George Whitefield. 2 (methodist) a
person who follows or advocates a particular method or system of
procedure. ЬЬMethodism n. Methodistic adj. Methodistical adj.
[mod.L methodista (as METHOD): sense 1 prob. from following a
specified 'method' of devotional study]
methodize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 reduce to order. 2 arrange in an orderly
manner. ЬЬmethodizer n.
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the science of method. 2 a body of methods
used in a particular branch of activity. ЬЬmethodological adj.
methodologically adv. methodologist n. [mod.L methodologia or
F m‚thodologie (as METHOD)]
methought past of METHINKS.
meths n. Brit. colloq. methylated spirit. [abbr.]
n. 1 a very old person or thing. 2 (methuselah) a wine bottle
of about eight times the standard size. [ME: the name of a
patriarch said to have lived 969 years (Gen. 5:27)]
methyl n. Chem. the univalent hydrocarbon radical CH, present in
many organic compounds. Ьmethyl alcohol = METHANOL. methyl
benzene = TOLUENE. ЬЬmethylic adj. [G Methyl or F m‚thyle,
back-form. f. G Methylen, F m‚thylЉne: see METHYLENE]
methylate v.tr. 1 mix or impregnate with methanol. 2 introduce a methyl
group into (a molecule or compound). Ьmethylated spirit (or
spirits) alcohol impregnated with methanol to make it unfit for
drinking and exempt from duty. ЬЬmethylation n.
methylene n. Chem. the highly reactive divalent group of atoms CH.
[F m‚thylЉne f. Gk methu wine + hule wood + -ENE]
metic n. Gk Antiq. an alien living in a Greek city with some
privileges of citizenship. [irreg. f. Gk metoikos (as META-,
adj. 1 giving great or excessive attention to details. 2 very
careful and precise. ЬЬmeticulously adv. meticulousness n. [L
meticulosus f. metus fear]
m‚tier n. 1 one's trade, profession, or department of activity. 2
one's forte. [F ult. f. L ministerium service]
metis n. (pl. metis; fem. metisse, pl. metisses) a person of mixed
race, esp. the offspring of a White person and an American
Indian in Canada. [F m‚tis, OF mestis f. Rmc, rel. to MESTIZO]
metol n. a white soluble powder used as a photographic developer.
[G, arbitrary name]
n. a period of 19 years (235 lunar months) covering all the
changes of the moon's position relative to the sun and the
earth. [Gk Meton, Athenian astronomer of the 5th c. BC]
metonym n. a word used in metonymy. [back-form. f. METONYMY, after
metonymy n. the substitution of the name of an attribute or adjunct for
that of the thing meant (e.g. Crown for king, the turf for
horse-racing). ЬЬmetonymic adj. metonymical adj. [LL
metonymia f. Gk metonumia (as META-, onoma, onuma name)]
metope n. Archit. a square space between triglyphs in a Doric frieze.
[L metopa f. Gk metope (as META-, ope hole for a beam-end)]
metre(1) n. (US meter) a metric unit and the base SI unit of linear
measure, equal to about 39.4 inches, and reckoned as the length
of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during 1/299,792,458
of a second. Ьmetre-kilogram-second denoting a system of
measure using the metre, kilogram, and second as the basic units
of length, mass, and time. °Abbr.: mks. ЬЬmetreage n. [F
mЉtre f. Gk metron measure]
metre(2) n. (US meter) 1 a any form of poetic rhythm, determined by the
number and length of feet in a line. b a metrical group or
measure. 2 the basic pulse and rhythm of a piece of music. [OF
metre f. L metrum f. Gk metron MEASURE]
metric adj. of or based on the metre. Ьmetric system the decimal
measuring system with the metre, litre, and gram (or kilogram)
as units of length, volume, and mass (see also SI). metric ton
(or tonne) 1,000 kilograms (2205 lb.). [F m‚trique (as
-metric comb. form (also -metrical) forming adjectives corresponding to
nouns in -meter and -metry (thermometric; geometric).
ЬЬ-metrically comb. form forming adverbs. [from or after F
-m‚trique f. L (as METRICAL)]
metrical adj. 1 of, relating to, or composed in metre (metrical psalms).
2 of or involving measurement (metrical geometry). ЬЬmetrically
adv. [ME f. L metricus f. Gk metrikos (as METRE(2))]
metricate v.intr. & tr. change or adapt to a metric system of
measurement. ЬЬmetrication n. metricize v.tr. (also -ise).
metritis n. inflammation of the womb. [Gk metra womb + -ITIS]
metro n. (pl. -os) an underground railway system in a city, esp.
Paris. [F m‚tro, abbr. of m‚tropolitain METROPOLITAN]
metrology n. the scientific study of measurement. ЬЬmetrologic adj.
metrological adj. [Gk metron measure + -LOGY]
metronome n. Mus. an instrument marking time at a selected rate by
giving a regular tick. ЬЬmetronomic adj. [Gk metron measure +
adj. & n. --adj. (of a name) derived from the name of a mother
or female ancestor. --n. a metronymic name. [Gk meter metros
mother, after patronymic]
n. 1 the chief city of a country; a capital city. 2 a
metropolitan bishop's see. 3 a centre of activity. [LL f. Gk
metropolis parent State f. meter metros mother + polis city]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to a metropolis, esp. as
distinct from its environs (metropolitan New York). 2 belonging
to, forming or forming part of, a mother country as distinct
from its colonies etc. (metropolitan France). 3 of an
ecclesiastical metropolis. --n. 1 (in full metropolitan
bishop) a bishop having authority over the bishops of a
province, in the Western Church equivalent to archbishop, in the
Orthodox Church ranking above archbishop and below patriarch. 2
an inhabitant of a metropolis. Ьmetropolitan county hist. (in
England) each of six units of local government centred on a
large urban area (in existence 1974-86). metropolitan
magistrate Brit. a paid professional magistrate in London (cf.
stipendiary magistrate). ЬЬmetropolitanate n. (in sense 1 of
n.). metropolitanism n. [ME f. LL metropolitanus f. Gk
metropolites (as METROPOLIS)]
n. abnormal bleeding from the womb. [mod.L f. Gk metra womb +
-rrhage as HAEMORRHAGE]
-metry comb. form forming nouns denoting procedures and systems
corresponding to instruments in -meter (calorimetry;
thermometry). [after geometry etc. f. Gk -metria f. -metres
mettle n. 1 the quality of a person's disposition or temperament (a
chance to show your mettle). 2 natural ardour. 3 spirit,
courage. Ьon one's mettle incited to do one's best. ЬЬmettled
adj. (also in comb.). mettlesome adj. [var. of METAL n.]
meu n. (also mew) = BALDMONEY. [irreg. f. L meum f. Gk meon]
meuniЉre adj. (esp. of fish) cooked or served in lightly browned butter
with lemon juice and parsley (sole meuniЉre). [F (… la)
meuniЉre (in the manner of) a miller's wife]
MeV abbr. mega-electronvolt(s).
mew(1) v. & n. --v.intr. (of a cat, gull, etc.) utter its
characteristic cry. --n. this sound, esp. of a cat. [ME:
mew(2) n. a gull, esp. the common gull, Larus canus. [OE m‘w f. Gmc]
mew(3) n. & v. --n. a cage for hawks, esp. while moulting. --v.tr. 1
put (a hawk) in a cage. 2 (often foll. by up) shut up; confine.
[ME f. OF mue f. muer moult f. L mutare change]
mew(4) var. of MEU.
mewl v.intr. (also mule) 1 cry feebly; whimper. 2 mew like a cat.
[imit.: cf. MIAUL]
mews n. Brit. a set of stabling round an open yard or along a lane,
now often converted into dwellings. [pl. (now used as sing.) of
MEW(3), orig. of the royal stables on the site of hawks' mews at
Mexican n. & adj. --n. 1 a a native or national of Mexico in Central
America. b a person of Mexican descent. 2 a language spoken in
Mexico, esp. Nahuatl. --adj. 1 of or relating to Mexico or its
people. 2 of Mexican descent. [Sp. mexicano]
mezereon n. a small European and Asian shrub, Daphne mezereum, with
fragrant purplish red flowers and red berries. [med.L f. Arab.
mezuzah n. (pl. mezuzoth) a parchment inscribed with religious texts
and attached in a case to the doorpost of a Jewish house as a
sign of faith. [Heb. mez–zah doorpost]
mezzanine n. 1 a low storey between two others (usu. between the ground
and first floors). 2 Brit. Theatr. a a floor or space beneath
the stage. b US a dress circle. [F f. It. mezzanino dimin. of
mezzano middle f. L medianus MEDIAN]
adv. Mus. with less than the full strength of the voice or
sound. [It., = half voice]
mezzo adv. & n. Mus. --adv. half, moderately. --n. (in full
mezzo-soprano) (pl. -os) 1 a a female singing-voice between
soprano and contralto. b a singer with this voice. 2 a part
written for mezzo-soprano. Ьmezzo forte fairly loud. mezzo
piano fairly soft. [It., f. L medius middle]
n. a raised surface in the form of half-relief, in which the
figures project half their true proportions. [It., =
mezzotint n. & v. --n. 1 a method of printing or engraving in which the
surface of a plate is roughened by scraping so that it produces
tones and half-tones. 2 a print produced by this process.
--v.tr. engrave in mezzotint. ЬЬmezzotinter n. [It.
mezzotinto f. mezzo half + tinto tint]
MI abbr. 1 US Michigan (in official postal use). 2 Brit. hist.
mi var. of ME(2).
mi. abbr. US mile(s).
M.I.5 abbr. (in the UK) the department of Military Intelligence
concerned with State security. °Not in official use.
M.I.6 abbr. (in the UK) the department of Military Intelligence
concerned with espionage. °Not in official use.
miaow n. & v. (also meow) --n. the characteristic cry of a cat.
--v.intr. make this cry. [imit.]
miasma n. (pl. miasmata or miasmas) archaic an infectious or noxious
vapour. ЬЬmiasmal adj. miasmatic adj. miasmic adj.
miasmically adv. [Gk, = defilement, f. miaino pollute]
miaul v.intr. cry like a cat; mew. [F miauler: imit.]
Mic. abbr. Micah (Old Testament).
mica n. any of a group of silicate minerals with a layered
structure, esp. muscovite. Ьmica-schist (or slate) a fissile
rock containing quartz and mica. ЬЬmicaceous adj. [L, = crumb]
mice pl. of MOUSE.
micelle n. Chem. an aggregate of molecules in a colloidal solution, as
occurs e.g. when soap dissolves in water. [mod.L micella
dimin. of L mica crumb]
Mich. abbr. 1 Michaelmas. 2 Michigan.
n. the feast of St Michael, 29 September. ЬMichaelmas daisy an
autumn-flowering aster. Michaelmas term Brit. (in some
universities) the autumn term. [OE sancte Micheles m‘sse Saint
Michael's mass: see MASS(2)]
mick n. sl. offens. 1 an Irishman. 2 a Roman Catholic. [pet-form
of the name Michael]
mickey n. (also micky) Ьtake the mickey (often foll. by out of) sl.
tease, mock, ridicule. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
n. sl. 1 a strong alcoholic drink, esp. adulterated with a
narcotic or laxative. 2 the adulterant itself. [20th c.: orig.
mickle adj. & n. (also muckle) archaic or Sc. --adj. much, great.
--n. a large amount. Ьmany a little makes a mickle (orig.
erron. many a mickle makes a muckle) many small amounts
accumulate to make a large amount. [ME f. ON mikell f. Gmc]
micky var. of MICKEY.
micro n. (pl. -os) colloq. 1 = MICROCOMPUTER. 2 = MICROPROCESSOR.
micro- comb. form 1 small (microchip). 2 denoting a factor of one
millionth (10(-6)) (microgram). °Symb.: ж. [Gk mikro- f.
n. the quantitative analysis of chemical compounds using a
sample of a few milligrams.
microbe n. a minute living being; a micro-organism (esp. bacteria
causing disease and fermentation). ЬЬmicrobial adj. microbic
adj. [F f. Gk mikros small + bios life]
n. the scientific study of micro-organisms, e.g. bacteria,
viruses, and fungi. ЬЬmicrobiological adj. microbiologically
adv. microbiologist n.
n. a particularly violent wind shear, esp. during a
n. an abnormal smallness of the head in relation to the rest of
the body. ЬЬmicrocephalic adj. & n. microcephalous adj.
microchip n. a small piece of semiconductor (usu. silicon) used to carry
n. an integrated circuit on a microchip. ЬЬmicrocircuitry n.
n. the climate of a small local area, e.g. inside a greenhouse.
ЬЬmicroclimatic adj. microclimatically adv.
microcode n. 1 = MICROINSTRUCTION. 2 = MICROPROGRAM.
n. a small computer that contains a microprocessor as its
microcopy n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) a copy of printed matter that has
been reduced by microphotography. --v.tr. (-ies, -ied) make a
microcosm n. 1 (often foll. by of) a miniature representation. 2 mankind
viewed as the epitome of the universe. 3 any community or
complex unity viewed in this way. ЬЬmicrocosmic adj.
microcosmically adv. [ME f. F microcosme or med.L microcosmus
f. Gk mikros kosmos little world]
microdot n. a microphotograph of a document etc. reduced to the size of
n. the branch of economics dealing with individual commodities,
n. the design, manufacture, and use of microchips and
n. (pl. same or microfiches) a flat rectangular piece of film
bearing microphotographs of the pages of a printed text or
microfilm n. & v. --n. a length of film bearing microphotographs of
documents etc. --v.tr. photograph (a document etc.) on
n. (pl. -ies) (in full microfloppy disk) Computing a floppy
disk with a diameter of less than 5¬ inches (usu. 3« inches).
microform n. microphotographic reproduction on film or paper of a
microgram n. one-millionth of a gram.
n. a photograph taken by means of a microscope.
n. a very narrow groove on a long-playing gramophone record.
n. a machine-code instruction that effects a basic operation in
a computer system.
n. a kind of motorized hang-glider.
microlith n. Archaeol. a minute worked flint usu. as part of a composite
tool. ЬЬmicrolithic adj.
micromesh n. (often attrib.) material, esp. nylon, consisting of a very
n. a gauge for accurately measuring small distances,
thicknesses, etc. ЬЬmicrometry n.
n. one-millionth of a metre.
n. (also -isation) the manufacture of very small electronic
devices by using integrated circuits.
micron n. one-millionth of a metre. [Gk mikron neut. of mikros small:
adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Micronesia, an island-group
in the W. Pacific. --n. a native of Micronesia. [Micronesia,
formed as MICRO- + Gk nesos island]
n. any of various microscopic organisms, including algae,
bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses.
n. an instrument for converting sound waves into electrical
energy variations which may be reconverted into sound after
transmission by wire or radio or after recording. ЬЬmicrophonic
n. a photograph reduced to a very small size.
n. a microscopic plant.
n. an integrated circuit that contains all the functions of a
central processing unit of a computer.
n. a microinstruction program that controls the functions of a
central processing unit of a computer.
micropyle n. Bot. a small opening in the surface of an ovule, through
which pollen passes. [MICRO- + Gk pule gate]
n. an instrument magnifying small objects by means of a lens or
lenses so as to reveal details invisible to the naked eye.
[mod.L microscopium (as MICRO-, -SCOPE)]
adj. 1 so small as to be visible only with a microscope. 2
extremely small. 3 regarded in terms of small units. 4 of the
microscope. ЬЬmicroscopical adj. (in sense 4). microscopically
n. the use of the microscope. ЬЬmicroscopist n.
n. one-millionth of a second.
Microsoft n. propr. an operating system for microcomputers. [the name
of the developing company]
microsome n. Biol. a small particle of organelle fragments obtained by
centrifugation of homogenized cells. [MICRO- + -SOME(3)]
n. the smaller of the two kinds of spore produced by some
n. (in a metal or other material) the arrangement of crystals
etc. which can be made visible and examined with a microscope.
n. intricate surgery performed using microscopes, enabling the
tissue to be operated on with miniaturized precision
instruments. ЬЬmicrosurgical adj.
n. a switch that can be operated rapidly by a small movement.
microtome n. an instrument for cutting extremely thin sections of
material for examination under a microscope. [MICRO- + -TOME]
microtone n. Mus. an interval smaller than a semitone.
n. Biol. a minute protein filament occurring in cytoplasm and
involved in forming the spindles during cell division etc.
microwave n. 1 an electromagnetic wave with a wavelength in the range
0.001-0.3m. 2 (in full microwave oven) an oven that uses
microwaves to cook or heat food quickly.
micrurgy n. the manipulation of individual cells etc. under a
microscope. [MICRO- + Gk -ourgia work]
n. formal urination. [L micturire micturit-, desiderative f.
mingere mict- urinate]
mid(1) attrib.adj. 1 (usu. in comb.) that is the middle of (in
mid-air; from mid-June to mid-July). 2 that is in the middle;
medium, half. 3 Phonet. (of a vowel) pronounced with the tongue
neither high nor low. [OE midd (recorded only in oblique
cases), rel. to L medius, Gk mesos]
mid(2) prep. poet. = AMID. [abbr. f. AMID]
n. the ability to turn one's activities to financial advantage.
[Midas, king of Phrygia, whose touch was said to turn all things
midbrain n. the part of the brain developing from the middle of the
primitive or embryonic brain.
midday n. the middle of the day; noon. [OE midd‘g (as MID(1), DAY)]
midden n. 1 a dunghill. 2 a refuse heap near a dwelling. 3 = kitchen
midden. [ME myddyng, of Scand. orig.: cf. Da. mнdding muck
middle adj., n., & v. --attrib.adj. 1 at an equal distance from the
extremities of a thing. 2 (of a member of a group) so placed as
to have the same number of members on each side. 3 intermediate
in rank, quality, etc. 4 average (of middle height). 5 (of a
language) of the period between the old and modern forms. 6
Gram. designating the voice of (esp. Greek) verbs that expresses
reciprocal or reflexive action. --n. 1 (often foll. by of) the
middle point or position or part. 2 a person's waist. 3 Gram.
the middle form or voice of a verb. 4 = middle term. --v.tr.
1 place in the middle. 2 Football return (the ball) from the
wing to the midfield. 3 Cricket strike (the ball) with the
middle of the bat. 4 Naut. fold in the middle. Ьin the middle
of (often foll. by verbal noun) in the process of; during.
middle age the period between youth and old age, about 45 to 60.
middle-aged in middle age. the Middle Ages the period of
European history from the fall of the Roman Empire in the West
(5th c.) to the fall of Constantinople (1453), or more narrowly
from c.1000 to 1453. middle-age (or -aged) spread the increased
bodily girth often associated with middle age. Middle America 1
Mexico and Central America. 2 the middle class in the US, esp.
as a conservative political force. middle C Mus. the C near
the middle of the piano keyboard, the note between the treble
and bass staves, at about 260 Hz. middle class the class of
society between the upper and the lower, including professional
and business workers and their families. middle-class adj. of
the middle class. middle common room Brit. a common room for
the use of graduate members of a college who are not Fellows.
middle course a compromise between two extremes. middle
distance 1 (in a painted or actual landscape) the part between
the foreground and the background. 2 Athletics a race distance
of esp. 400 or 800 metres. middle ear the cavity of the central
part of the ear behind the drum. the Middle East the area
covered by countries from Egypt to Iran inclusive. Middle
Eastern of or in the Middle East. Middle English the English
language from c.1150 to 1500. middle finger the finger next to
the forefinger. middle game the central phase of a chess game,
when strategies are developed. middle name 1 a person's name
placed after the first name and before the surname. 2 a
person's most characteristic quality (sobriety is my middle
name). middle-of-the-road (of a person, course of action, etc.)
moderate; avoiding extremes. middle passage the sea journey
between W. Africa and the W. Indies (with ref. to the slave
trade). middle school Brit. a school for children from about 9
to 13 years old. middle-sized of medium size. Middle Temple
one of the two Inns of Court on the site of the Temple in London
(cf. Inner Temple). middle term Logic the term common to both
premisses of a syllogism. middle watch the watch from midnight
to 4 a.m. middle way 1 = middle course. 2 the eightfold path
of Buddhism between indulgence and asceticism. Middle West (in
the US) the region adjoining the northern Mississippi. [OE
middel f. Gmc]
adj. & n. colloq. --adj. claiming to be or regarded as only
moderately intellectual. --n. a middlebrow person.
middleman n. (pl. -men) 1 any of the traders who handle a commodity
between its producer and its consumer. 2 an intermediary.
n. 1 a weight in certain sports intermediate between
welterweight and light heavyweight, in the amateur boxing scale
71-5 kg but differing for professionals, wrestlers, and
weightlifters. 2 a sportsman of this weight. Ьjunior
middleweight 1 a weight in professional boxing of 66.7-69.8 kg.
2 a professional boxer of this weight. light middleweight 1 a
weight in amateur boxing of 67-71 kg. 2 an amateur boxer of
middling adj., n., & adv. --adj. 1 a moderately good (esp. fair to
middling). b colloq. (of a person's health) fairly well. c
second-rate. 2 (of goods) of the second of three grades. --n.
(in pl.) middling goods, esp. flour of medium fineness. --adv.
fairly or moderately (middling good). ЬЬmiddlingly adv. [ME,
of Sc. orig.: prob. f. MID(1) + -LING(2)]
Middx. abbr. Middlesex.
middy(1) n. (pl. -ies) 1 colloq. a midshipman. 2 (in full middy
blouse) a woman's or child's loose blouse with a collar like
that worn by sailors.
middy(2) n. (pl. -ies) Austral. sl. a measure of beer of varying
size. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
Mideast n. US = Middle East.
midfield n. Football the central part of the pitch, away from the goals.
midge n. 1 colloq. a a gnatlike insect. b a small person. 2 a any
dipterous non-biting insect of the family Chironomidae. b any
similar insect of the family Ceratopogonidae with piercing
mouthparts for sucking blood or eating smaller insects. [OE
mycg(e) f. Gmc]
midget n. 1 an extremely small person or thing. 2 (attrib.) very
small. [MIDGE + -ET(1)]
midgut n. the middle part of the alimentary canal, including the small
midi n. (pl. midis) a garment of medium length, usu. reaching to
mid-calf. [MID(1) after MINI]
midibus n. a bus seating up to about 25 passengers.
midinette n. a Parisian shop-girl, esp. a milliner's assistant. [F f.
midi midday + dЊnette light dinner]
midiron n. Golf an iron giving medium lift.
midland n. & adj. --n. 1 (the Midlands) the inland counties of central
England. 2 the middle part of a country. --adj. 1 of or in
the midland or Midlands. 2 Mediterranean. ЬЬmidlander n.
mid-life n. middle age. Ьmid-life crisis an emotional crisis of
self-confidence that can occur in early middle age.
midline n. a median line, or plane of bilateral symmetry.
midmost adj. & adv. in the very middle.
midnight n. 1 the middle of the night; 12 o'clock at night. 2 intense
darkness. Ьmidnight blue a very dark blue. midnight sun the
sun visible at midnight during the summer in polar regions. [OE
midniht (as MID(1), NIGHT)]
mid-off n. Cricket the position of the fielder near the bowler on the
mid-on n. Cricket the position of the fielder near the bowler on the
Midrash n. (pl. Midrashim) an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew
scriptures. [Bibl. Heb. midras commentary]
midrib n. the central rib of a leaf.
midriff n. 1 a the region of the front of the body between the thorax
and abdomen. b the diaphragm. 2 a garment or part of a garment
covering the abdomen. [OE midhrif (as MID(1), hrif belly)]
midship n. the middle part of a ship or boat.
n. (pl. -men) 1 Brit. a naval officer of rank between naval
cadet and sub-lieutenant. 2 US a naval cadet.
midships adv. = AMIDSHIPS.
midst prep. & n. --prep. poet. amidst. --n. middle (now only in
phrases as below). Ьin the midst of among; in the middle of.
in our (or your or their) midst among us (or you or them). [ME
middest, middes f. in middes, in middan (as IN, MID(1))]
midsummer n. the period of or near the summer solstice, about 21 June.
ЬMidsummer (or Midsummer's) Day 24 June. midsummer madness
extreme folly. [OE midsumor (as MID(1), SUMMER(1))]
midtown n. US the central part of a city between the downtown and
midway adv. in or towards the middle of the distance between two
Midwest n. = Middle West.
midwicket n. Cricket the position of a fielder on the leg side opposite
the middle of the pitch.
midwife n. (pl. -wives) a person (usu. a woman) trained to assist
women in childbirth. ЬЬmidwifery n. [ME, prob. f. obs. prep.
mid with + WIFE woman, in the sense of 'one who is with the
midwinter n. the period of or near the winter solstice, about 22 Dec.
[OE (as MID(1), WINTER)]
mielie var. of MEALIE.
mien n. literary a person's look or bearing, as showing character or
mood. [prob. f. obs. demean f. DEMEAN(2), assim. to F mine
miff v. & n. colloq. --v.tr. (usu. in passive) put out of humour;
offend. --n. 1 a petty quarrel. 2 a huff. [perh. imit.: cf.
G muff, exclam. of disgust]
might(1) past of MAY, used esp.: 1 in reported speech, expressing
possibility (said he might come) or permission (asked if I might
leave) (cf. MAY 1, 2). 2 (foll. by perfect infin.) expressing
a possibility based on a condition not fulfilled (if you'd
looked you might have found it; but for the radio we might not
have known). 3 (foll. by present infin. or perfect infin.)
expressing complaint that an obligation or expectation is not or
has not been fulfilled (he might offer to help; they might have
asked; you might have known they wouldn't come). 4 expressing a
request (you might call in at the butcher's). 5 colloq. a =
MAY 1 (it might be true). b (in tentative questions) = MAY 2
(might I have the pleasure of this dance?). c = MAY 4 (who
might you be?). Ьmight as well expressing that it is probably
at least as desirable to do a thing as not to do it (finished
the work and decided they might as well go to lunch; won't win
but might as well try). might-have-been colloq. 1 a past
possibility that no longer applies. 2 a person who could have
been more eminent.
might(2) n. 1 great bodily or mental strength. 2 power to enforce one's
will (usu. in contrast with right). Ьwith all one's might to
the utmost of one's power. with might and main see MAIN(1).
[OE miht, mieht f. Gmc, rel. to MAY(1)]
mightn't contr. might not.
mighty adj. & adv. --adj. (mightier, mightiest) 1 powerful or strong,
in body, mind, or influence. 2 massive, bulky. 3 colloq.
great, considerable. --adv. colloq. very (a mighty difficult
task). ЬЬmightily adv. mightiness n. [OE mihtig (as
n. 1 a any of various plants of the genus Reseda, esp. R.
odorata, with fragrant grey-green flowers. b the colour of
these. 2 a light fine narrow pillow-lace. [F mignonnette
dimin. of mignon small]
migraine n. a recurrent throbbing headache that usually affects one side
of the head, often accompanied by nausea and disturbance of
vision. ЬЬmigrainous adj. [F f. LL hemicrania f. Gk hemikrania
(as HEMI-, CRANIUM): orig. of a headache confined to one side of
migrant adj. & n. --adj. that migrates. --n. a migrant person or
animal, esp. a bird.
migrate v.intr. 1 (of people) move from one place of abode to another,
esp. in a different country. 2 (of a bird or fish) change its
area of habitation with the seasons. 3 move under natural
forces. ЬЬmigration n. migrational adj. migrator n.
migratory adj. [L migrare migrat-]
mihrab n. a niche or slab in a mosque, used to show the direction of
Mecca. [Arab. mihrab praying-place]
mikado n. (pl. -os) hist. the emperor of Japan. [Jap. f. mi august
+ kado door]
Mike n. sl. Ьfor the love of Mike an exclamation of entreaty or
dismay. [abbr. of the name Michael]
mike(1) n. colloq. a microphone. [abbr.]
mike(2) v. & n. Brit. sl. --v.intr. shirk work; idle. --n. an act of
shirking. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
mil n. one-thousandth of an inch, as a unit of measure for the
diameter of wire etc. [L millesimum thousandth f. mille
milady n. (pl. -ies) 1 an English noblewoman or great lady. 2 a form
used in speaking of or to such a person. [F f. E my lady: cf.
milage var. of MILEAGE.
Milanese adj. & n. --adj. of or relating to Milan in N. Italy. --n.
(pl. same) a native of Milan. ЬMilanese silk a finely woven
silk or rayon.
milch adj. (of a domestic mammal) giving or kept for milk. Ьmilch
cow a source of easy profit, esp. a person. [ME m(i)elche repr.
OE mielce (unrecorded) f. Gmc: see MILK]
mild adj. 1 (esp. of a person) gentle and conciliatory. 2 (of a
rule, punishment, illness, feeling, etc.) moderate; not severe.
3 (of the weather, esp. in winter) moderately warm. 4 a (of
food, tobacco, etc.) not sharp or strong in taste etc. b Brit.
(of beer) not strongly flavoured with hops (cf. BITTER). 5 (of
medicine) operating gently. 6 tame, feeble; lacking energy or
vivacity. Ьmild steel steel containing a small percentage of
carbon, strong and tough but not readily tempered. ЬЬmilden
v.tr. & intr. mildish adj. mildness n. [OE milde f. Gmc]
mildew n. & v. --n. 1 a destructive growth of minute fungi on plants.
2 a similar growth on paper, leather, etc. exposed to damp.
--v.tr. & intr. taint or be tainted with mildew. ЬЬmildewy adj.
[OE mildeaw f. Gmc]
mildly adv. in a mild fashion. Ьto put it mildly as an understatement
(implying the reality is more extreme).
mile n. 1 (also statute mile) a unit of linear measure equal to
1,760 yards (approx. 1.609 kilometres). 2 hist. a Roman measure
of 1,000 paces (approx. 1,620 yards). 3 (in pl.) colloq. a
great distance or amount (miles better; beat them by miles). 4
a race extending over a mile. [OE mil ult. f. L mil(l)ia pl. of
mille thousand (see sense 2)]
mileage n. (also milage) 1 a a number of miles travelled, used, etc. b
the number of miles travelled by a vehicle per unit of fuel. 2
travelling expenses (per mile). 3 colloq. benefit, profit,
milepost n. a post one mile from the finishing-post of a race etc.
miler n. colloq. a person or horse qualified or trained specially to
run a mile.
milestone n. 1 a stone set up beside a road to mark a distance in miles.
2 a significant event or stage in a life, history, project, etc.
milfoil n. the common yarrow, Achillea millefolium, with small white
flowers and finely divided leaves. [ME f. OF f. L millefolium
f. mille thousand + folium leaf, after Gk muriophullon]
miliary adj. 1 like a millet-seed in size or form. 2 (of a disease)
having as a symptom a rash with lesions resembling millet-seed.
[L miliarius f. milium millet]
milieu n. (pl. milieux or milieus) one's environment or social
surroundings. [F f. mi MID(1) + lieu place]
militant adj. & n. --adj. 1 combative; aggressively active esp. in
support of a (usu. political) cause. 2 engaged in warfare.
--n. a militant person, esp. a political activist. ЬЬmilitancy
n. militantly adv. [ME f. OF f. L (as MILITATE)]
n. 1 the spirit or tendencies of a professional soldier. 2
undue prevalence of the military spirit or ideals.
ЬЬmilitaristic adj. militaristically adv. [F militarisme (as
n. 1 a person dominated by militaristic ideas. 2 a student of
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 equip with military resources. 2 make
military or warlike. 3 imbue with militarism. ЬЬmilitarization
military adj. & n. --adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of soldiers
or armed forces. --n. (as sing. or pl.; prec. by the) members
of the armed forces, as distinct from civilians and the police.
Ьmilitary honours marks of respect paid by troops at the burial
of a soldier, to royalty, etc. military police a corps
responsible for police and disciplinary duties in the army.
military policeman a member of the military police.
ЬЬmilitarily adv. militariness n. [F militaire or L militaris
f. miles militis soldier]
militate v.intr. (usu. foll. by against) (of facts or evidence) have
force or effect (what you say militates against our opinion).
°Often confused with mitigate. [L militare militat- f. miles
militia n. a military force, esp. one raised from the civil population
and supplementing a regular army in an emergency. [L, =
military service f. miles militis soldier]
n. (pl. -men) a member of a militia.
milk n. & v. --n. 1 an opaque white fluid secreted by female
mammals for the nourishment of their young. 2 the milk of cows,
goats, or sheep as food. 3 the milklike juice of plants, e.g.
in the coconut. 4 a milklike preparation of herbs, drugs, etc.
--v.tr. 1 draw milk from (a cow, ewe, goat, etc.). 2 a exploit
(a person) esp. financially. b get all possible advantage from
(a situation). 3 extract sap, venom, etc. from. 4 sl. tap
(telegraph or telephone wires etc.). Ьcry over spilt milk
lament an irremediable loss or error. in milk secreting milk.
milk and honey abundant means of prosperity. milk and water a
feeble or insipid or mawkish discourse or sentiment. milk bar a
snack bar selling milk drinks and other refreshments. milk
chocolate chocolate for eating, made with milk. milk float
Brit. a small usu. electric vehicle used in delivering milk.
milk-leg a painful swelling, esp. of the legs, after childbirth.
milk-loaf a loaf of bread made with milk. milk of human
kindness kindness regarded as natural to humanity. Milk of
Magnesia Brit. propr. a white suspension of magnesium
hydroxide usu. in water as an antacid or laxative. milk of
sulphur the amorphous powder of sulphur formed by precipitation.
milk-powder milk dehydrated by evaporation. milk pudding a
pudding of rice, sago, tapioca, etc., baked with milk in a dish.
milk round 1 a fixed route on which milk is delivered regularly.
2 a regular trip or tour involving calls at several places.
milk run a routine expedition or service journey. milk shake a
drink of milk, flavouring, etc., mixed by shaking or whisking.
milk sugar lactose. milk tooth a temporary tooth in young
mammals. milk-vetch any leguminous yellow-flowered plant of the
genus Astragalus. milk-white white like milk. ЬЬmilker n. [OE
milc, milcian f. Gmc]
milkmaid n. a girl or woman who milks cows or works in a dairy.
milkman n. (pl. -men) a person who sells or delivers milk.
milksop n. a spiritless man or youth.
milkweed n. any of various wild plants with milky juice.
milkwort n. any plant of the genus Polygala, formerly supposed to
increase women's milk.
milky adj. (milkier, milkiest) 1 of, like, or mixed with milk. 2 (of
a gem or liquid) cloudy; not clear. 3 effeminate; weakly
amiable. ЬMilky Way a faintly luminous band of light emitted by
countless stars encircling the heavens; the Galaxy. ЬЬmilkiness
mill(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a building fitted with a mechanical apparatus
for grinding corn. b such an apparatus. 2 an apparatus for
grinding any solid substance to powder or pulp (pepper-mill). 3
a a building fitted with machinery for manufacturing processes
etc. (cotton-mill). b such machinery. 4 a a boxing-match. b a
fist fight. --v. 1 tr. grind (corn), produce (flour), or hull
(seeds) in a mill. 2 tr. produce regular ribbed markings on the
edge of (a coin). 3 tr. cut or shape (metal) with a rotating
tool. 4 intr. (often foll. by about, around) (of people or
animals) move in an aimless manner, esp. in a confused mass. 5
tr. thicken (cloth etc.) by fulling. 6 tr. beat (chocolate
etc.) to froth. 7 tr. sl. beat, strike, fight. Ьgo (or put)
through the mill undergo (or cause to undergo) intensive work or
training etc. mill-dam a dam put across a stream to make it
usable by a mill. mill-hand a worker in a mill or factory.
mill-race a current of water that drives a mill-wheel.
mill-wheel a wheel used to drive a water-mill. ЬЬmillable adj.
[OE mylen ult. f. LL molinum f. L mola grindstone, mill f.
mill(2) n. US one-thousandth of a dollar as money of account. [L
millesimum thousandth: cf. CENT]
millboard n. stout pasteboard for bookbinding etc.
n. a rich confection of puff pastry split and filled with jam,
cream, etc. [F, = thousand-leaf]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or related to the millennium. 2
believing in the millennium. --n. a person who believes in the
millennium. [as MILLENARY]
millenary n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) 1 a period of 1,000 years. 2 the
festival of the 1,000th anniversary of a person or thing. 3 a
person who believes in the millennium. --adj. of or relating to
a millenary. [LL millenarius consisting of a thousand f.
milleni distrib. of mille thousand]
n. (pl. millenniums or millennia) 1 a period of 1,000 years,
esp. that of Christ's prophesied reign in person on earth (Rev.
20:1-5). 2 a period of good government, great happiness, and
prosperity. ЬЬmillennial adj. millennialist n. & adj. [mod.L
f. L mille thousand after BIENNIUM]
millepede var. of MILLIPEDE.
millepore n. a reef-building coral of the order Milleporina, with polyps
protruding through pores in the calcareous exoskeleton. [F
mill‚pore or mod.L millepora f. L mille thousand + porus
miller n. 1 the proprietor or tenant of a corn-mill. 2 a person who
works or owns a mill. Ьmiller's thumb a small spiny freshwater
fish, Cottus gobio: also called BULLHEAD. [ME mylnere, prob. f.
MLG, MDu. molner, mulner, OS mulineri f. LL molinarius f.
molina MILL(1), assim. to MILL(1)]
adj. & n. --adj. 1 thousandth. 2 of or belonging to a
thousandth. 3 of or dealing with thousandths. --n. a
thousandth part. ЬЬmillesimally adv. [L millesimus f. mille
millet n. 1 any of various cereal plants, esp. Panicum miliaceum,
bearing a large crop of small nutritious seeds. 2 the seed of
this. Ьmillet-grass a tall woodland grass, Milium effusum. [ME
f. F, dimin. of mil f. L milium]
milli- comb. form a thousand, esp. denoting a factor of one thousandth.
°Abbr.: m. [L mille thousand]
n. an instrument for measuring electrical current in
n. one thousandth of an ampere, a measure for small electrical
milliard n. Brit. one thousand million. °Now largely superseded by
billion. [F f. mille thousand]
millibar n. one-thousandth of a bar, the cgs unit of atmospheric
pressure equivalent to 100 pascals.
milligram n. one-thousandth of a gram.
n. one-thousandth of a litre (0.002 pint).
n. one-thousandth of a metre (0.039 in.).
milliner n. a person who makes or sells women's hats. ЬЬmillinery n.
[orig. = vendor of goods from Milan]
million n. & adj. --n. (pl. same or (in sense 2) millions) (in sing.
prec. by a or one) 1 a thousand thousand. 2 (in pl.) colloq. a
very large number (millions of years). 3 (prec. by the) the
bulk of the population. 4 a Brit. a million pounds. b US a
million dollars. --adj. that amount to a million. Ьgone a
million Austral. sl. completely defeated. ЬЬmillionfold adj.
& adv. millionth adj. & n. [ME f. OF, prob. f. It. millione
f. mille thousand + -one augment. suffix]
n. (fem. millionairess) 1 a person whose assets are worth at
least one million pounds, dollars, etc. 2 a person of great
wealth. [F millionnaire (as MILLION)]
millipede n. (also millepede) any arthropod of the class Diplopoda,
having a long segmented body with two pairs of legs on each
segment. [L millepeda wood-louse f. mille thousand + pes pedis
n. one-thousandth of a second.
millpond n. a pool of water retained by a mill-dam for the operation of
a mill. Ьlike a millpond (of a stretch of water) very calm.
n. an oval hand-grenade. [invented by Sir W. Mills d. 1932]
millstone n. 1 each of two circular stones used for grinding corn. 2 a
heavy burden or responsibility (cf. Matt. 18:6).
n. a person who designs or builds mills.
milometer n. an instrument for measuring the number of miles travelled by
milord n. hist. an Englishman travelling in Europe in aristocratic
style. [F f. E my lord: cf. MILADY]
milt n. 1 the spleen in mammals. 2 an analogous organ in other
vertebrates. 3 a sperm-filled reproductive gland of a male
fish. [OE milt(e) f. Gmc, perh. rel. to MELT]
milter n. a male fish in spawning-time.
mimbar n. (also minbar) a stepped platform for preaching in a mosque.
mime n. & v. --n. 1 the theatrical technique of suggesting action,
character, etc. by gesture and expression without using words.
2 a theatrical performance using this technique. 3 Gk & Rom.
Antiq. a simple farcical drama including mimicry. 4 (also mime
artist) a practitioner of mime. --v. 1 tr. (also absol.)
convey (an idea or emotion) by gesture without words. 2 intr.
(often foll. by to) (of singers etc.) mouth the words of a song
etc. along with a soundtrack (mime to a record). ЬЬmimer n. [L
mimus f. Gk mimos]
n. & v. --n. 1 (often attrib.) a duplicating machine which
produces copies from a stencil. 2 a copy produced in this way.
--v.tr. reproduce (text or diagrams) by this process. [irreg.
f. Gk mimeomai imitate: see -GRAPH]
mimesis n. Biol. a close external resemblance of an animal to another
that is distasteful or harmful to predators of the first. [Gk
mimetic adj. 1 relating to or habitually practising imitation or
mimicry. 2 Biol. of or exhibiting mimesis. ЬЬmimetically adv.
[Gk mimetikos imitation (as MIMESIS)]
mimic v., n., & adj. --v.tr. (mimicked, mimicking) 1 imitate (a
person, gesture, etc.) esp. to entertain or ridicule. 2 copy
minutely or servilely. 3 (of a thing) resemble closely. --n. a
person skilled in imitation. --adj. having an aptitude for
mimicry; imitating; imitative, esp. for amusement. ЬЬmimicker
n. [L mimicus f. Gk mimikos (as MIME)]
mimicry n. (pl. -ies) 1 the act or art of mimicking. 2 a thing that
mimics another. 3 Zool. mimesis.
mimosa n. 1 any leguminous shrub of the genus Mimosa, esp. M. pudica,
having globular usu. yellow flowers and sensitive leaflets which
droop when touched. 2 any of various acacia plants with showy
yellow flowers. [mod.L, app. f. L (as MIME, from being as
sensitive as animals) + -osa fem. suffix]
mimulus n. any flowering plant of the genus Mimulus, including musk and
the monkey flower. [mod.L, app. dimin. of L (as MIME, perh.
with ref. to its masklike flowers)]
Min n. any of the Chinese languages or dialects spoken in the
Fukien province in SE China. [Chin.]
Min. abbr. 1 Minister. 2 Ministry.
min. abbr. 1 minute(s). 2 minimum. 3 minim (fluid measure).
mina var. of MYNA.
minaret n. a slender turret connected with a mosque and having a
balcony from which the muezzin calls at hours of prayer.
ЬЬminareted adj. [F minaret or Sp. minarete f. Turk. minare
f. Arab. manar(a) lighthouse, minaret f. nar fire, light]
minatory adj. threatening, menacing. [LL minatorius f. minari minat-
minbar var. of MIMBAR.
mince v. & n. --v. 1 tr. cut up or grind (esp. meat) into very small
pieces. 2 tr. (usu. with neg.) restrain (one's words etc.)
within the bounds of politeness. 3 intr. (usu. as mincing adj.)
speak or walk with an affected delicacy. --n. esp. Brit.
minced meat. Ьmince matters (usu. with neg.) use polite
expressions etc. mince pie a usu. small round pie containing
mincemeat. ЬЬmincer n. mincingly adv. (in sense 3 of v.). [ME
f. OF mincier ult. f. L (as MINUTIA)]
mincemeat n. a mixture of currants, raisins, sugar, apples, candied peel,
spices, and often suet. Ьmake mincemeat of utterly defeat (a
person, argument, etc.).
mind n. & v. --n. 1 a the seat of consciousness, thought, volition,
and feeling. b attention, concentration (my mind keeps
wandering). 2 the intellect; intellectual powers. 3
remembrance, memory (it went out of my mind; I can't call it to
mind). 4 one's opinion (we're of the same mind). 5 a way of
thinking or feeling (shocking to the Victorian mind). 6 the
focus of one's thoughts or desires (put one's mind to it). 7
the state of normal mental functioning (lose one's mind; in
one's right mind). 8 a person as embodying mental faculties (a
great mind). --v.tr. 1 (usu. with neg. or interrog.) object to
(do you mind if I smoke?; I don't mind your being late). 2 a
remember; take care to (mind you come on time). b (often foll.
by out) take care; be careful. 3 have charge of temporarily
(mind the house while I'm away). 4 apply oneself to, concern
oneself with (business, affairs, etc.) (I try to mind my own
business). 5 give heed to; notice (mind the step; don't mind
the expense; mind how you go). 6 US & Ir. be obedient to (mind
what your mother says). Ьbe in two minds be undecided. cast
one's mind back think back; recall an earlier time. come into a
person's mind be remembered. come to mind (of a thought, idea,
etc.) suggest itself. don't mind me iron. do as you please.
do you mind! iron. an expression of annoyance. give a person
a piece of one's mind scold or reproach a person. have a good
(or great or half a) mind to (often as a threat, usu.
unfulfilled) feel tempted to (I've a good mind to report you).
have (it) in mind intend. have a mind of one's own be capable
of independent opinion. have on one's mind be troubled by the
thought of. in one's mind's eye in one's imagination or mental
view. mind-bending colloq. (esp. of a psychedelic drug)
influencing or altering one's state of mind. mind-blowing sl.
1 confusing, shattering. 2 (esp. of drugs etc.) inducing
hallucinations. mind-boggling colloq. overwhelming, startling.
mind out for guard against, avoid. mind over matter the power
of the mind asserted over the physical universe. mind one's Ps
& Qs be careful in one's behaviour. mind-read discern the
thoughts of (another person). mind-reader a person capable of
mind-reading. mind-set habits of mind formed by earlier events.
mind the shop have charge of affairs temporarily. mind you an
expression used to qualify a previous statement (I found it
quite quickly; mind you, it wasn't easy). mind your back (or
backs) colloq. an expression to indicate that a person wants to
get past. never mind 1 an expression used to comfort or
console. 2 (also never you mind) an expression used to evade a
question. open (or close) one's mind to be receptive (or
unreceptive) to (changes, new ideas, etc.). put a person in
mind of remind a person of. put (or set) a person's mind at
rest reassure a person. put a person or thing out of one's mind
deliberately forget. read a person's mind discern a person's
thoughts. to my mind in my opinion. [ME mynd f. OE gemynd f.
minded adj. 1 (in comb.) a inclined to think in some specified way
(mathematically minded; fair-minded). b having a specified kind
of mind (high-minded). c interested in or enthusiastic about a
specified thing (car-minded). 2 (usu. foll. by to + infin.)
disposed or inclined (to an action).
minder n. 1 a a person whose job it is to attend to a person or thing.
b (in comb.) (child-minder; machine-minder). 2 sl. a a
bodyguard, esp. a person employed to protect a criminal. b a
mindful adj. (often foll. by of) taking heed or care; being conscious.
ЬЬmindfully adv. mindfulness n.
mindless adj. 1 lacking intelligence; stupid. 2 not requiring thought
or skill (totally mindless work). 3 (usu. foll. by of) heedless
of (advice etc.). ЬЬmindlessly adv. mindlessness n.
mine(1) poss.pron. 1 the one or ones belonging to or associated with me
(it is mine; mine are over there). 2 (attrib. before a vowel)
archaic = MY (mine eyes have seen; mine host). Ьof mine of or
belonging to me (a friend of mine). [OE min f. Gmc]
mine(2) n. & v. --n. 1 an excavation in the earth for extracting
metal, coal, salt, etc. 2 an abundant source (of information
etc.). 3 a receptacle filled with explosive and placed in the
ground or in the water for destroying enemy personnel, ships,
etc. 4 a a subterranean gallery in which explosive is placed to
blow up fortifications. b hist. a subterranean passage under
the wall of a besieged fortress. --v.tr. 1 obtain (metal,
coal, etc.) from a mine. 2 (also absol., often foll. by for)
dig in (the earth etc.) for ore etc. 3 a dig or burrow in (usu.
the earth). b make (a hole, passage, etc.) underground. 4 lay
explosive mines under or in. 5 = UNDERMINE. Ьmine-detector an
instrument for detecting the presence of mines. ЬЬmining n.
[ME f. OF mine, miner, perh. f. Celt.]
minefield n. 1 an area planted with explosive mines. 2 a subject or
situation presenting unseen hazards.
minelayer n. a ship or aircraft for laying mines.
miner n. 1 a person who works in a mine. 2 any burrowing insect or
grub. Ьminer's right Austral. a licence to dig for gold etc.
on private or public land. [ME f. OF min‰or, minour (as
mineral n. & adj. --n. 1 any of the species into which inorganic
substances are classified. 2 a substance obtained by mining. 3
(often in pl.) Brit. an artificial mineral water or other
effervescent drink. --adj. 1 of or containing a mineral or
minerals. 2 obtained by mining. Ьmineral oil petroleum or one
of its distillation products. mineral water 1 water found in
nature with some dissolved salts present. 2 an artificial
imitation of this, esp. soda water. 3 any effervescent
non-alcoholic drink. mineral wax a fossil resin, esp.
ozocerite. mineral wool a wool-like substance made from
inorganic material, used for packing etc. [ME f. OF mineral or
med.L mineralis f. minera ore f. OF miniere mine]
v. (also -ise) 1 v.tr. & intr. change wholly or partly into a
mineral. 2 v.tr. impregnate (water etc.) with a mineral
n. the scientific study of minerals. ЬЬmineralogical adj.
n. a soup containing vegetables and pasta, beans, or rice.
n. a ship for clearing away floating and submarine mines.
minever var. of MINIVER.
n. a person who works in a mine, esp. a coalmine.
Ming n. 1 the dynasty ruling China 1368-1644. 2 Chinese porcelain
made during the rule of this dynasty. [Chin.]
mingle v.tr. & intr. mix, blend. Ьmingle their etc. tears literary
weep together. mingle with go about among. ЬЬmingler n. [ME
mengel f. obs. meng f. OE mengan, rel. to AMONG]
mingy adj. (mingier, mingiest) Brit. colloq. mean, stingy.
ЬЬmingily adv. [perh. f. MEAN(2) and STINGY]
mini n. (pl. minis) 1 colloq. a miniskirt, minidress, etc. 2
(Mini) propr. a make of small car. [abbr.]
mini- comb. form miniature; very small or minor of its kind (minibus;
mini-budget). [abbr. of MINIATURE]
miniature adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 much smaller than normal. 2
represented on a small scale. --n. 1 any object reduced in
size. 2 a small-scale minutely finished portrait. 3 this
branch of painting (portrait in miniature). 4 a picture or
decorated letters in an illuminated manuscript. --v.tr.
represent on a smaller scale. Ьin miniature on a small scale.
miniature camera a camera producing small negatives.
ЬЬminiaturist n. (in senses 2 and 3 of n.). [It. miniatura f.
med.L miniatura f. L miniare rubricate, illuminate f. L minium
red lead, vermilion]
v.tr. (also -ise) produce in a smaller version; make small.
minibus n. a small bus for about twelve passengers.
minicab n. Brit. a car used as a taxi, but not licensed to ply for
n. a computer of medium power, more than a microcomputer but
less than a mainframe.
minikin adj. & n. --adj. 1 diminutive. 2 affected, mincing. --n. a
diminutive creature. [obs. Du. minneken f. minne love + -ken,
minim n. 1 Mus. a note having the time value of two crotchets or half
a semibreve and represented by a hollow ring with a stem. Also
called half-note. 2 one-sixtieth of a fluid drachm, about a
drop. 3 an object or portion of the smallest size or
importance. 4 a single down-stroke of the pen. [ME f. L
minima pl. of MINIMUM.
minimal adj. 1 very minute or slight. 2 being or related to a minimum.
3 the least possible in size, duration, etc. 4 Art etc.
characterized by the use of simple or primary forms or
structures etc., often geometric or massive (huge minimal forms
in a few colours). ЬЬminimalism n. (in sense 4). minimally
adv. (in senses 1-3). [L minimus smallest]
n. 1 (also attrib.) a person advocating small or moderate
reform in politics (opp. MAXIMALIST). 2 = MENSHEVIK. 3 a
person who advocates or practises minimal art. ЬЬminimalism n.
minimax n. 1 Math. the lowest of a set of maximum values. 2 (usu.
attrib.) a a strategy that minimizes the greatest risk to a
participant in a game etc. b the theory that in a game with two
players, a player's smallest possible maximum loss is equal to
the same player's greatest possible minimum gain. [MINIMUM +
minimize v. (also -ise) 1 tr. reduce to, or estimate at, the smallest
possible amount or degree. 2 tr. estimate or represent at less
than the true value or importance. 3 intr. attain a minimum
value. ЬЬminimization n. minimizer n.
minimum n. & adj. (pl. minima) --n. the least possible or attainable
amount (reduced to a minimum). --adj. that is a minimum.
Ьminimum lending rate the announced minimum percentage at which
a central bank will discount bills (cf. base rate (see
BASE(1))). °Abolished in the UK in 1981. minimum wage the
lowest wage permitted by law or special agreement. [L, neut. of
minion n. derog. 1 a servile agent; a slave. 2 a favourite servant,
animal, etc. 3 a favourite of a sovereign etc. [F mignon, OF
mignot, of Gaulish orig.]
minipill n. a contraceptive pill containing a progestogen only (not
n. a short series of television programmes on a common theme.
miniskirt n. a very short skirt.
minister n. & v. --n. 1 a head of a government department. 2 (in full
minister of religion) a member of the clergy, esp. in the
Presbyterian and Nonconformist Churches. 3 a diplomatic agent,
usu. ranking below an ambassador. 4 (usu. foll. by of) a person
employed in the execution of (a purpose, will, etc.) (a
minister of justice). 5 (in full minister general) the superior
of some religious orders. --v. 1 intr. (usu. foll. by to)
render aid or service (to a person, cause, etc.). 2 tr. (usu.
foll. by with) archaic furnish, supply, etc. Ьministering angel
a kind-hearted person, esp. a woman, who nurses or comforts
others (with ref. to Mark 1:13). Minister of the Crown Brit.
Parl. a member of the Cabinet. Minister of State a government
minister, in the UK usu. regarded as holding a rank below that
of Head of Department. Minister without Portfolio a government
minister who has Cabinet status, but is not in charge of a
specific Department of State. ЬЬministrable adj. [ME f. OF
ministre f. L minister servant f. minus less]
adj. 1 of a minister of religion or a minister's office. 2
instrumental or subsidiary in achieving a purpose (ministerial
in bringing about a settlement). 3 a of a government minister.
b siding with the Ministry against the Opposition.
ЬЬministerialist n. (in sense 3b). ministerially adv. [F
minist‚riel or LL ministerialis f. L (as MINISTRY)]
n. 1 (usu. in pl.) aid or service (the kind ministrations of
his neighbours). 2 ministering, esp. in religious matters. 3
(usu. foll. by of) the supplying (of help, justice, etc.).
ЬЬministrant adj. & n. ministrative adj. [ME f. OF
ministration or L ministratio (as MINISTER)]
ministry n. (pl. -ies) 1 a a government department headed by a
minister. b the building which it occupies (the Ministry of
Defence). 2 a (prec. by the) the vocation or profession of a
religious minister (called to the ministry). b the office of a
religious minister, priest, etc. c the period of tenure of
this. 3 (prec. by the) the body of ministers of a government or
of a religion. 4 a period of government under one Prime
Minister. 5 ministering, ministration. [ME f. L ministerium
miniver n. (also minever) plain white fur used in ceremonial costume.
[ME f. AF menuver, OF menu vair (as MENU, VAIR)]
mink n. 1 either of two small semi-aquatic stoatlike animals of the
genus Mustela, M. vison of N. America and M. intreola of
Europe. 2 the thick brown fur of these. 3 a coat made of this.
[cf. Sw. m„nk, menk]
minke n. a small baleen whale, Balaenoptera acutorostrata, with a
pointed snout. [prob. f. Meincke, the name of a Norw. whaler]
Minn. abbr. Minnesota.
n. a German lyric poet and singer of the 12th-14th c. [G, =
minnow n. any of various small freshwater fish of the carp family,
esp. Phoxinus phoxinus. [late ME menow, perh. repr. OE mynwe
(unrecorded), myne: infl. by ME menuse, menise f. OF menuise,
ult. rel. to MINUTIA]
Minoan adj. & n. Archaeol. --adj. of or relating to the Bronze Age
civilization centred on Crete (c.3000-1100 BC). --n. 1 an
inhabitant of Minoan Crete or the Minoan world. 2 the language
or scripts associated with the Minoans. [named after the
legendary Cretan king Minos (Gk Minos), to whom the palace
excavated at Knossos was attributed]
minor adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 lesser or comparatively small in size
or importance (minor poet; minor operation). 2 Mus. a (of a
scale) having intervals of a semitone between the second and
third, fifth and sixth, and seventh and eighth degrees. b (of
an interval) less by a semitone than a major interval. c (of a
key) based on a minor scale, tending to produce a melancholy
effect. 3 Brit. (in schools) indicating the younger of two
children from the same family or the second to enter the school
(usu. put after the name). 4 Logic a (of a term) occurring as
the subject of the conclusion of a categorical syllogism. b (of
a premiss) containing the minor term in a categorical syllogism.
--n. 1 a person under the legal age limit or majority (no
unaccompanied minors). 2 Mus. a minor key etc. 3 US a
student's subsidiary subject or course (cf. MAJOR). 4 Logic a
minor term or premiss. --v.intr. (foll. by in) US (of a
student) undertake study in (a subject) as a subsidiary to a
main subject. Ьin a minor key (of novels, events, people's
lives, etc.) understated, uneventful. minor axis Geom. (of a
conic) the axis perpendicular to the major axis. minor canon a
cleric who is not a member of the chapter, who assists in daily
cathedral services. minor league US (in baseball, football,
etc.) a league of professional clubs other than the major
leagues. minor orders see ORDER. minor piece Chess a bishop or
a knight. minor planet an asteroid. minor prophet any of the
prophets from Hosea to Malachi, whose surviving writings are not
lengthy. minor suit Bridge diamonds or clubs. [L, = smaller,
less, rel. to minuere lessen]
minority n. (pl. -ies) 1 (often foll. by of) a smaller number or part,
esp. within a political party or structure. 2 the number of
votes cast for this (a minority of two). 3 the state of having
less than half the votes or of being supported by less than half
of the body of opinion (in the minority). 4 a relatively small
group of people differing from others in the society of which
they are a part in race, religion, language, political
persuasion, etc. 5 (attrib.) relating to or done by the
minority (minority interests). 6 a the state of being under
full legal age. b the period of this. [F minorit‚ or med.L
minoritas f. L minor: see MINOR]
Minotaur n. (in Greek mythology) a man with a bull's head, kept in a
Cretan labyrinth and fed with human flesh. [ME f. OF f. L
Minotaurus f. Gk Minotauros f. Minos, legendary king of Crete
(see MINOAN) + tauros bull]
minster n. 1 a large or important church (York Minster). 2 the church
of a monastery. [OE mynster f. eccl.L monasterium f. Gk
minstrel n. 1 a medieval singer or musician, esp. singing or reciting
poetry. 2 hist. a person who entertained patrons with singing,
buffoonery, etc. 3 (usu. in pl.) a member of a band of public
entertainers with blackened faces etc., performing songs and
music ostensibly of Negro origin. [ME f. OF menestral
entertainer, servant, f. Prov. menest(ai)ral officer, employee,
musician, f. LL ministerialis official, officer: see
n. (pl. -ies) 1 the minstrel's art. 2 a body of minstrels. 3
minstrel poetry. [ME f. OF menestralsie (as MINSTREL)]
mint(1) n. 1 any aromatic plant of the genus Mentha. 2 a peppermint
sweet or lozenge. Ьmint julep US a sweet iced alcoholic drink
of bourbon flavoured with mint. mint sauce chopped mint in
vinegar and sugar, usu. eaten with lamb. ЬЬminty adj.
(mintier, mintiest). [OE minte ult. f. L ment(h)a f. Gk minthe]
mint(2) n. & v. --n. 1 a place where money is coined, usu. under State
authority. 2 a vast sum of money (making a mint). 3 a source
of invention etc. (a mint of ideas). --v.tr. 1 make (coin) by
stamping metal. 2 invent, coin (a word, phrase, etc.). Ьin
mint condition (or state) freshly minted; (of books etc.) as
new. mint-mark a mark on a coin to indicate the mint at which
it was struck. mint-master the superintendent of coinage at a
mint. mint par (in full mint parity) 1 the ratio between the
gold equivalents of currency in two countries. 2 their rate of
exchange based on this. ЬЬmintage n. [OE mynet f. WG f. L
minuend n. Math. a quantity or number from which another is to be
subtracted. [L minuendus gerundive of minuere diminish]
minuet n. & v. --n. 1 a slow stately dance for two in triple time. 2
Mus. the music for this, or music in the same rhythm and style,
often as a movement in a suite, sonata, or symphony. --v.intr.
(minueted, minueting) dance a minuet. [F menuet, orig. adj. =
fine, delicate, dimin. of menu: see MENU]
minus prep., adj., & n. --prep. 1 with the subtraction of (7 minus 4
equals 3). °Symb.: -. 2 (of temperature) below zero (minus
2ш). 3 colloq. lacking; deprived of (returned minus their dog).
--adj. 1 Math. negative. 2 Electronics having a negative
charge. --n. 1 = minus sign. 2 Math. a negative quantity. 3
a disadvantage. Ьminus sign the symbol -, indicating
subtraction or a negative value. [L, neut. of minor less]
minuscule n. & adj. --n. 1 Palaeog. a kind of cursive script developed
in the 7th c. 2 a lower-case letter. --adj. 1 lower-case. 2
colloq. extremely small or unimportant. ЬЬminuscular adj. [F
f. L minuscula (littera letter) dimin. of minor: see MINOR]
minute(1) n. & v. --n. 1 the sixtieth part of an hour. 2 a distance
covered in one minute (twenty minutes from the station). 3 a a
moment; an instant; a point of time (expecting her any minute;
the train leaves in a minute). b (prec. by the) colloq. the
present time (what are you doing at the minute?). c (foll. by
clause) as soon as (call me the minute you get back). 4 the
sixtieth part of an angular degree. 5 (in pl.) a brief summary
of the proceedings at a meeting. 6 an official memorandum
authorizing or recommending a course of action. --v.tr. 1
record (proceedings) in the minutes. 2 send the minutes to (a
person). Ьjust (or wait) a minute 1 a request to wait for a
short time. 2 as a prelude to a query or objection. minute-gun
a gun fired at intervals of a minute at funerals etc. minute
hand the hand on a watch or clock which indicates minutes.
minute steak a thin slice of steak to be cooked quickly. up to
the minute completely up to date. [ME f. OF f. LL minuta (n.),
f. fem. of minutus MINUTE(2): senses 1 & 4 of noun f. med.L pars
minuta prima first minute part (cf. SECOND(2)): senses 5 & 6
perh. f. med.L minuta scriptura draft in small writing]
minute(2) adj. (minutest) 1 very small. 2 trifling, petty. 3 (of an
inquiry, inquirer, etc.) accurate, detailed, precise.
ЬЬminutely adv. minuteness n. [ME f. L minutus past part. of
Minuteman n. (pl. -men) US 1 a political watchdog or activist. 2 a type
of three-stage intercontinental ballistic missile. 3 hist. an
American militiaman of the revolutionary period (ready to march
at a minute's notice).
minutia n. (pl. -iae) (usu. in pl.) a precise, trivial, or minor
detail. [L, = smallness, in pl. trifles f. minutus: see
minx n. a pert, sly, or playful girl. ЬЬminxish adj. minxishly
adv. [16th c.: orig. unkn.]
Miocene adj. & n. Geol. --adj. of or relating to the fourth epoch of
the Tertiary period with evidence for the diversification of
primates, including early apes. °Cf. Appendix II. --n. this
epoch or system. [irreg. f. Gk meion less + kainos new]
miosis n. (also myosis) excessive constriction of the pupil of the
eye. ЬЬmiotic adj. [Gk muo shut the eyes + -OSIS]
mirabelle n. 1 a a European variety of plum-tree, Prunus insititia,
bearing small round yellow fruit. b a fruit from this tree. 2
a liqueur distilled from this fruit. [F]
miracle n. 1 an extraordinary event attributed to some supernatural
agency. 2 a any remarkable occurrence. b a remarkable
development in some specified area (an economic miracle; the
German miracle). 3 (usu. foll. by of) a remarkable or
outstanding specimen (the plan was a miracle of ingenuity).
Ьmiracle drug a drug which represents a breakthrough in medical
science. miracle play a medieval play based on the Bible or the
lives of the saints. [ME f. OF f. L miraculum object of wonder
f. mirari wonder f. mirus wonderful]
adj. 1 of the nature of a miracle. 2 supernatural. 3
remarkable, surprising. ЬЬmiraculously adv. miraculousness n.
[F miraculeux or med.L miraculosus f. L (as MIRACLE)]
mirador n. a turret or tower etc. attached to a building, and
commanding an excellent view. [Sp. f. mirar to look]
mirage n. 1 an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, esp.
the appearance of a sheet of water in a desert or on a hot road
from the reflection of light. 2 an illusory thing. [F f. se
mirer be reflected, f. L mirare look at]
MIRAS abbr. (also Miras) mortgage interest relief at source.
mire n. & v. --n. 1 a stretch of swampy or boggy ground. 2 mud,
dirt. --v. 1 tr. & intr. plunge or sink in a mire. 2 tr.
involve in difficulties. Ьin the mire in difficulties. [ME f.
ON m°rr f. Gmc, rel. to MOSS]
mirepoix n. saut‚d chopped vegetables, used in sauces etc. [F, f. Duc
de Mirepoix, Fr. general d. 1757]
mirk var. of MURK.
mirky var. of MURKY.
mirror n. & v. --n. 1 a polished surface, usu. of amalgam-coated
glass or metal, which reflects an image; a looking-glass. 2
anything regarded as giving an accurate reflection or
description of something else. --v.tr. reflect as in a mirror.
Ьmirror carp a breed of carp with large shiny scales. mirror
finish a reflective surface. mirror image an identical image,
but with the structure reversed, as in a mirror. mirror
symmetry symmetry as of an object and its reflection. mirror
writing backwards writing, like ordinary writing reflected in a
mirror. [ME f. OF mirour ult. f. L mirare look at]
mirth n. merriment, laughter. ЬЬmirthful adj. mirthfully adv.
mirthfulness n. mirthless adj. mirthlessly adv. mirthlessness
n. [OE myrgth (as MERRY)]
MIRV abbr. multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicle (a type
mis-(1) prefix added to verbs and verbal derivatives: meaning 'amiss',
'badly', 'wrongly', 'unfavourably' (mislead; misshapen;
mistrust). [OE f. Gmc]
mis-(2) prefix occurring in a few words adopted from French meaning
'badly', 'wrongly', 'amiss', 'ill-', or having a negative force
(misadventure; mischief). [OF mes- ult. f. L minus (see MINUS):
assim. to MIS-(1)]
v.tr. 1 address (a letter etc.) wrongly. 2 address (a person)
wrongly, esp. impertinently.
n. 1 Law an accident without concomitant crime or negligence
(death by misadventure). 2 bad luck. 3 a misfortune. [ME f.
OF mesaventure f. mesavenir turn out badly (as MIS-(2), ADVENT:
misalign v.tr. give the wrong alignment to. ЬЬmisalignment n.
n. an unsuitable alliance, esp. an unsuitable marriage.
ЬЬmisally v.tr. (-ies, -ied). [MIS-(1) + ALLIANCE, after
n. (also misanthropist) 1 a person who hates mankind. 2 a
person who avoids human society. ЬЬmisanthropic adj.
misanthropical adj. misanthropically adv. misanthropy n.
misanthropize v.intr. (also -ise). [F f. Gk misanthropos f.
misos hatred + anthropos man]
misapply v.tr. (-ies, -ied) apply (esp. funds) wrongly.
v.tr. misunderstand (words, a person). ЬЬmisapprehension n.
v.tr. apply (usu. another's money) to one's own use, or to a
wrong use. ЬЬmisappropriation n.
miscall v.tr. 1 call by a wrong or inappropriate name. 2 archaic or
dial. call (a person) names.
n. 1 a spontaneous abortion, esp. before the 28th week of
pregnancy. 2 Brit. the failure (of a plan, letter, etc.) to
reach completion or its destination. Ьmiscarriage of justice
any failure of the judicial system to attain the ends of
justice. [MISCARRY, after CARRIAGE]
miscarry v.intr. (-ies, -ied) 1 (of a woman) have a miscarriage. 2
Brit. (of a letter etc.) fail to reach its destination. 3 (of a
business, plan, etc.) fail, be unsuccessful.
miscast v.tr. (past and past part. -cast) allot an unsuitable part to
n. the interbreeding of races, esp. of Whites and non-Whites.
[irreg. f. L miscere mix + genus race]
n.pl. 1 a literary miscellany. 2 a collection of miscellaneous
items. [L neut. pl. (as MISCELLANEOUS)]
adj. 1 of mixed composition or character. 2 (foll. by pl.
noun) of various kinds. 3 (of a person) many-sided.
ЬЬmiscellaneously adv. miscellaneousness n. [L miscellaneus f.
miscellus mixed f. miscere mix]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a mixture, a medley. 2 a book containing a
collection of stories etc., or various literary compositions.
ЬЬmiscellanist n. [F miscellan‚es (fem. pl.) or L MISCELLANEA]
mischance n. 1 bad luck. 2 an instance of this. [ME f. OF mesch(e)ance
f. mescheoir (as MIS-(2), CHANCE)]
mischief n. 1 conduct which is troublesome, but not malicious, esp. in
children. 2 pranks, scrapes (get into mischief; keep out of
mischief). 3 playful malice, archness, satire (eyes full of
mischief). 4 harm or injury caused by a person or thing. 5 a
person or thing responsible for harm or annoyance (that loose
connection is the mischief). 6 (prec. by the) the annoying part
or aspect (the mischief of it is that etc.). Ьdo a person a
mischief wound or kill a person. get up to (or make) mischief
create discord. mischief-maker one who encourages discord, esp.
by gossip etc. [ME f. OF meschief f. meschever (as MIS-(2),
chever come to an end f. chef head: see CHIEF)]
adj. 1 (of a person) disposed to mischief. 2 (of conduct)
playfully malicious. 3 (of a thing) having harmful effects.
ЬЬmischievously adv. mischievousness n. [ME f. AF meschevous
f. OF meschever: see MISCHIEF]
n. an alloy of lanthanide metals, usu. added to iron to improve
its malleability. [G mischen mix + Metall metal]
miscible adj. (often foll. by with) capable of being mixed.
ЬЬmiscibility n. [med.L miscibilis f. L miscere mix]
v. 1 intr. (often foll. by of) have a wrong idea or conception.
2 tr. (as misconceived adj.) badly planned, organized, etc. 3
tr. misunderstand (a word, person, etc.). ЬЬmisconceiver n.
n. & v. --n. 1 improper or unprofessional behaviour. 2 bad
management. --v. 1 refl. misbehave. 2 tr. mismanage.
v.tr. (-construes, -construed, -construing) 1 interpret (a
word, action, etc.) wrongly. 2 mistake the meaning of (a
person). ЬЬmisconstruction n.
miscount v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) count wrongly. --n. a wrong
miscreant n. & adj. --n. 1 a vile wretch, a villain. 2 archaic a
heretic. --adj. 1 depraved, villainous. 2 archaic heretical.
[ME f. OF mescreant (as MIS-(2), creant part. of croire f. L
miscue n. & v. --n. (in snooker etc.) the failure to strike the ball
properly with the cue. --v.intr. (-cues, -cued, -cueing or
-cuing) make a miscue.
misdate v.tr. date (an event, a letter, etc.) wrongly.
misdeal v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) (past and past part. -dealt)
make a mistake in dealing (cards). --n. 1 a mistake in dealing
cards. 2 a misdealt hand.
misdeed n. an evil deed, a wrongdoing; a crime. [OE misd‘d (as
n. a person convicted of a misdemeanour or guilty of
misconduct. [archaic misdemean misbehave]
n. (US misdemeanor) 1 an offence, a misdeed. 2 Law an
indictable offence, (in the UK formerly) less heinous than a
v.tr. diagnose incorrectly. ЬЬmisdiagnosis n.
misdial v.tr. (also absol.) (-dialled, -dialling; US -dialed, -dialing)
dial (a telephone number etc.) incorrectly.
misdirect v.tr. 1 direct (a person, letter, blow, etc.) wrongly. 2 (of a
judge) instruct (the jury) wrongly. ЬЬmisdirection n.
misdoing n. a misdeed.
misdoubt v.tr. 1 have doubts or misgivings about the truth or existence
of. 2 be suspicious about; suspect that.
n. wrong or faulty education. ЬЬmiseducate v.tr.
mise en scЉne
n. 1 Theatr. the scenery and properties of a play. 2 the
setting or surroundings of an event. [F]
misemploy v.tr. employ or use wrongly or improperly. ЬЬmisemployment n.
miser n. 1 a person who hoards wealth and lives miserably. 2 an
avaricious person. [L, = wretched]
miserable adj. 1 wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable (felt miserable; a
miserable hovel). 2 contemptible, mean. 3 causing wretchedness
or discomfort (miserable weather). 4 Sc., Austral., & NZ
stingy, mean. ЬЬmiserableness n. miserably adv. [ME f. F
mis‚rable f. L miserabilis pitiable f. miserari to pity f.
misЉre n. Cards (in solo whist etc.) a declaration undertaking to win
no tricks. [F, = poverty, MISERY]
miserere n. 1 a cry for mercy. 2 = MISERICORD 1. [ME f. L, imper. of
misereri have mercy (as MISER); first word of Ps. 51 in Latin]
n. 1 a shelving projection on the under side of a hinged seat
in a choir stall serving (when the seat is turned up) to help
support a person standing. 2 an apartment in a monastery in
which some relaxations of discipline are permitted. 3 a dagger
for dealing the death stroke. [ME f. OF misericorde f. L
misericordia f. misericors compassionate f. stem of misereri
pity + cor cordis heart]
miserly adj. like a miser, niggardly. ЬЬmiserliness n. [MISER]
misery n. (pl. -ies) 1 a wretched state of mind, or of outward
circumstances. 2 a thing causing this. 3 colloq. a constantly
depressed or discontented person. 4 = MIS°RE. Ьput out of its
etc. misery 1 release (a person, animal, etc.) from suffering or
suspense. 2 kill (an animal in pain). [ME f. OF misere or L
miseria (as MISER)]
n. Law a transgression, esp. the wrongful exercise of lawful
authority. [ME f. OF mesfaisance f. mesfaire misdo (as
MIS-(2), faire do f. L facere): cf. MALFEASANCE]
misfield v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) (in cricket, baseball, etc.)
field (the ball) badly. --n. an instance of this.
misfire v. & n. --v.intr. 1 (of a gun, motor engine, etc.) fail to go
off or start or function regularly. 2 (of an action etc.) fail
to have the intended effect. --n. a failure of function or
misfit n. 1 a person unsuited to a particular kind of environment,
occupation, etc. 2 a garment etc. that does not fit. Ьmisfit
stream Geog. a stream not corresponding in size to its valley.
n. 1 bad luck. 2 an instance of this.
misgive v.tr. (past -gave; past part. -given) (often foll. by about,
that) (of a person's mind, heart, etc.) fill (a person) with
suspicion or foreboding.
misgiving n. (usu. in pl.) a feeling of mistrust or apprehension.
misgovern v.tr. govern (a State etc.) badly. ЬЬmisgovernment n.
misguide v.tr. 1 (as misguided adj.) mistaken in thought or action. 2
mislead, misdirect. ЬЬmisguidance n. misguidedly adv.
mishandle v.tr. 1 deal with incorrectly or ineffectively. 2 handle (a
person or thing) roughly or rudely; ill-treat.
mishap n. an unlucky accident.
mishear v.tr. (past and past part. -heard) hear incorrectly or
mishit v. & n. --v.tr. (-hitting; past and past part. -hit) hit (a
ball etc.) faultily. --n. a faulty or bad hit.
mishmash n. a confused mixture. [ME, reduplication of MASH]
Mishnah n. a collection of precepts forming the basis of the Talmud,
and embodying Jewish oral law. ЬЬMishnaic adj. [Heb. misnah
(teaching by) repetition]
v.tr. (-ies, -ied) identify erroneously. ЬЬmisidentification
misinform v.tr. give wrong information to, mislead. ЬЬmisinformation n.
v.tr. (-interpreted, -interpreting) 1 interpret wrongly. 2
draw a wrong inference from. ЬЬmisinterpretation n.
misjudge v.tr. (also absol.) 1 judge wrongly. 2 have a wrong opinion
of. ЬЬmisjudgement n. (also misjudgment).
miskey v.tr. (-keys, -keyed) key (data) wrongly.
miskick v. & n. --v.tr. (also absol.) kick (a ball etc.) badly or
wrongly. --n. an instance of this.
mislay v.tr. (past and past part. -laid) 1 unintentionally put (a
thing) where it cannot readily be found. 2 euphem. lose.
mislead v.tr. (past and past part. -led) 1 cause (a person) to go
wrong, in conduct, belief, etc. 2 lead astray or in the wrong
direction. ЬЬmisleader n.
adj. causing to err or go astray; imprecise, confusing.
ЬЬmisleadingly adv. misleadingness n.
mismanage v.tr. manage badly or wrongly. ЬЬmismanagement n.
n. an unsuitable marriage or alliance. [MIS-(1) + MARRIAGE]
mismatch v. & n. --v.tr. match unsuitably or incorrectly, esp. in
marriage. --n. a bad match.
mismated adj. 1 (of people) not suited to each other, esp. in marriage.
2 (of objects) not matching.
v.tr. measure or estimate incorrectly. ЬЬmismeasurement n.
misname v.tr. = MISCALL.
misnomer n. 1 a name or term used wrongly. 2 the wrong use of a name or
term. [ME f. AF f. OF mesnom(m)er (as MIS-(2), nommer name f. L
nominare formed as NOMINATE)]
misogamy n. the hatred of marriage. ЬЬmisogamist n. [Gk misos hatred +
misogyny n. the hatred of women. ЬЬmisogynist n. misogynous adj. [Gk
misos hatred + gune woman]
mispickel n. Mineral. arsenical pyrites. [G]
misplace v.tr. 1 put in the wrong place. 2 bestow (affections,
confidence, etc.) on an inappropriate object. 3 time (words,
actions, etc.) badly. ЬЬmisplacement n.
misplay v. & n. --v.tr. play (a ball, card, etc.) in a wrong or
ineffective manner. --n. an instance of this.
misprint n. & v. --n. a mistake in printing. --v.tr. print wrongly.
n. Law 1 (in full misprision of a felony or of treason) the
deliberate concealment of one's knowledge of a crime, treason,
etc. 2 a wrong action or omission. [ME f. AF mesprisioun f. OF
mesprison error f. mesprendre to mistake (as MIS-(2), prendre
n. 1 a misreading, misunderstanding, etc. 2 (usu. foll. by of)
a failure to appreciate the value of a thing. 3 archaic
contempt. [MISPRIZE after MISPRISION(1)]
misprize v.tr. literary despise, scorn; fail to appreciate. [ME f. OF
mesprisier (as MIS-(1), PRIZE(1))]
v.tr. pronounce (a word etc.) wrongly. ЬЬmispronunciation n.
misquote v.tr. quote wrongly. ЬЬmisquotation n.
misread v.tr. (past and past part. -read) read or interpret (text, a
situation, etc.) wrongly.
v.tr. remember imperfectly or incorrectly.
misreport v. & n. --v.tr. give a false or incorrect report of. --n. a
false or incorrect report.
v.tr. represent wrongly; give a false or misleading account or
idea of. ЬЬmisrepresentation n. misrepresentative adj.
misrule n. & v. --n. bad government; disorder. --v.tr. govern badly.
Miss. abbr. Mississippi.
miss(1) v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (also absol.) fail to hit, reach, find,
catch, etc. (an object or goal). 2 tr. fail to catch (a bus,
train, etc.). 3 tr. fail to experience, see, or attend (an
occurrence or event). 4 tr. fail to meet (a person); fail to
keep (an appointment). 5 tr. fail to seize (an opportunity
etc.) (I missed my chance). 6 tr. fail to hear or understand
(I'm sorry, I missed what you said). 7 tr. a regret the loss
or absence of (a person or thing) (did you miss me while I was
away?). b notice the loss or absence of (an object) (bound to
miss the key if it isn't there). 8 tr. avoid (go early to miss
the traffic). 9 tr. = miss out 1. 10 intr. (of an engine etc.)
fail, misfire. --n. 1 a failure to hit, reach, attain,
connect, etc. 2 colloq. = MISCARRIAGE 1. Ьbe missing not have
(see also MISSING adj.). give (a thing) a miss avoid, leave
alone (gave the party a miss). miss the boat (or bus) lose an
opportunity. miss fire (of a gun) fail to go off or hit the
mark (cf. MISFIRE). a miss is as good as a mile the fact of
failure or escape is not affected by the narrowness of the
margin. miss out 1 omit, leave out (missed out my name from the
list). 2 (usu. foll. by on) colloq. fail to get or experience
(always misses out on the good times). not miss much be alert.
not miss a trick never fail to seize an opportunity, advantage,
etc. ЬЬmissable adj. [OE missan f. Gmc]
miss(2) n. 1 a girl or unmarried woman. 2 (Miss) a the title of an
unmarried woman or girl, or of a married woman retaining her
maiden name for professional purposes. b the title of a beauty
queen (Miss World). 3 usu. derog. or joc. a girl, esp. a
schoolgirl, with implications of silliness etc. 4 the title
used to address a female schoolteacher, shop assistant, etc.
ЬЬmissish adj. (in sense 3). [abbr. of MISTRESS]
missal n. RC Ch. 1 a book containing the texts used in the service of
the Mass throughout the year. 2 a book of prayers, esp. an
illuminated one. [ME f. med.L missale neut. of eccl.L missalis
of the mass f. missa MASS(2)]
var. of MISTLE-THRUSH.
misshape v.tr. give a bad shape or form to; distort.
misshapen adj. ill-shaped, deformed, distorted. ЬЬmisshapenly adv.
missile n. 1 an object or weapon suitable for throwing at a target or
for discharge from a machine. 2 a weapon, esp. a nuclear
weapon, directed by remote control or automatically.
ЬЬmissilery n. [L missilis f. mittere miss- send]
missing adj. 1 not in its place; lost. 2 (of a person) not yet traced
or confirmed as alive but not known to be dead. 3 not present.
Ьmissing link 1 a thing lacking to complete a series. 2 a
hypothetical intermediate type, esp. between humans and apes.
mission n. 1 a a particular task or goal assigned to a person or group.
b a journey undertaken as part of this. c a person's vocation
(mission in life). 2 a military or scientific operation or
expedition for a particular purpose. 3 a body of persons sent,
esp. to a foreign country, to conduct negotiations etc. 4 a a
body sent to propagate a religious faith. b a field of
missionary activity. c a missionary post or organization. d a
place of worship attached to a mission. 5 a particular course
or period of preaching, services, etc., undertaken by a parish
or community. [F mission or L missio f. mittere miss- send]
adj. & n. --adj. of, concerned with, or characteristic of,
religious missions. --n. (pl. -ies) a person doing missionary
work. Ьmissionary position colloq. a position for sexual
intercourse with the woman lying on her back and the man lying
on top and facing her. [mod.L missionarius f. L (as MISSION)]
missioner n. 1 a missionary. 2 a person in charge of a religious
missis n. (also missus) sl. or joc. 1 a form of address to a woman.
2 a wife. Ьthe missis my or your wife. [corrupt. of MISTRESS:
missive n. 1 joc. a letter, esp. a long and serious one. 2 an official
letter. Ьletter (or letters) missive a letter from a sovereign
to a dean and chapter nominating a person to be elected bishop.
[ME f. med.L missivus f. L (as MISSION)]
misspell v.tr. (past and past part. -spelt or -spelled) spell wrongly.
n. a wrong spelling.
misspend v.tr. (past and past part. -spent) (esp. as misspent adj.)
spend amiss or wastefully.
misstate v.tr. state wrongly or inaccurately.
n. a wrong or inaccurate statement.
misstep n. 1 a wrong step or action. 2 a faux pas.
missus var. of MISSIS.
missy n. (pl. -ies) an affectionate or derogatory form of address to
a young girl.
mist n. & v. --n. 1 a water vapour near the ground in minute
droplets limiting visibility. b condensed vapour settling on a
surface and obscuring glass etc. 2 dimness or blurring of the
sight caused by tears etc. 3 a cloud of particles resembling
mist. --v.tr. & intr. (usu. foll. by up, over) cover or become
covered with mist or as with mist. ЬЬmistful adj. mistlike
adj. [OE f. Gmc]
mistake n. & v. --n. 1 an incorrect idea or opinion; a thing
incorrectly done or thought. 2 an error of judgement. --v.tr.
(past mistook; past part. mistaken) 1 misunderstand the meaning
or intention of (a person, a statement, etc.). 2 (foll. by for)
wrongly take or identify (mistook me for you). 3 choose wrongly
(mistake one's vocation). Ьand (or make) no mistake colloq.
undoubtedly. by mistake accidentally; in error. there is no
mistaking one is sure to recognize (a person or thing).
ЬЬmistakable adj. mistakably adv. [ME f. ON mistaka (as
mistaken adj. 1 wrong in opinion or judgement. 2 based on or resulting
from this (mistaken loyalty; mistaken identity). ЬЬmistakenly
adv. mistakenness n.
misteach v.tr. (past and past part. -taught) teach wrongly or
mister n. 1 a man without a title of nobility etc. (a mere mister). 2
sl. or joc. a form of address to a man. [weakened form of
MASTER in unstressed use before a name: cf. MR]
mistigris n. Cards 1 a blank card used as a wild card in a form of draw
poker. 2 this game. [F mistigri jack of clubs]
mistime v.tr. say or do at the wrong time. [OE mistimian (as MIS-(1),
mistitle v.tr. give the wrong title or name to.
n. (also missel thrush) a large thrush, Turdus viscivorus, with
a spotted breast, that feeds on mistletoe berries. [OE mistel
basil, mistletoe, of unkn. orig.]
mistletoe n. 1 a parasitic plant, Viscum album, growing on apple and
other trees and bearing white glutinous berries in winter. 2 a
similar plant, Phoradendron flavescens, native to N. America.
[OE misteltan (as MISTLE (THRUSH), tan twig)]
mistook past of MISTAKE.
mistral n. a cold northerly wind that blows down the Rh“ne valley and
S. France into the Mediterranean. [F & Prov. f. L (as
v.tr. translate incorrectly. ЬЬmistranslation n.
mistreat v.tr. treat badly. ЬЬmistreatment n.
mistress n. 1 a female head of a household. 2 a a woman in authority
over others. b the female owner of a pet. 3 a woman with power
to control etc. (often foll. by of: mistress of the situation).
4 Brit. a a female teacher (music mistress). b a female head
of a college etc. 5 a a woman (other than his wife) with whom a
married man has a (usu. prolonged) sexual relationship. b
archaic or poet. a woman loved and courted by a man. 6 archaic
or dial. (as a title) = MRS. ЬMistress of the Robes a lady in
charge of the Queen's wardrobe. [ME f. OF maistresse f.
mistrial n. 1 a trial rendered invalid through some error in the
proceedings. 2 US a trial in which the jury cannot agree on a
mistrust v. & n. --v.tr. 1 be suspicious of. 2 feel no confidence in
(a person, oneself, one's powers, etc.). --n. 1 suspicion. 2
lack of confidence.
adj. 1 (foll. by of) suspicious. 2 lacking confidence or
trust. ЬЬmistrustfully adv. mistrustfulness n.
misty adj. (mistier, mistiest) 1 of or covered with mist. 2
indistinct or dim in outline. 3 obscure, vague (a misty idea).
ЬЬmistily adv. mistiness n. [OE mistig (as MIST)]
mistype v.tr. type wrongly. [MIS-(1) + TYPE]
v.tr. (past and past part. -understood) 1 fail to understand
correctly. 2 (usu. as misunderstood adj.) misinterpret the
words or actions of (a person).
n. 1 a failure to understand correctly. 2 a slight
disagreement or quarrel.
misusage n. 1 wrong or improper usage. 2 ill-treatment.
misuse v. & n. --v.tr. 1 use wrongly; apply to the wrong purpose. 2
ill-treat. --n. wrong or improper use or application.
MIT abbr. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
mite(1) n. any small arachnid of the order Acari, having four pairs of
legs when adult. ЬЬmity adj. [OE mite f. Gmc]
mite(2) n. & adv. --n. 1 hist. a Flemish copper coin of small value.
2 any small monetary unit. 3 a small object or person, esp. a
child. 4 a modest contribution; the best one can do (offered my
mite of comfort). --adv. (usu. prec. by a) colloq. somewhat (is
a mite shy). [ME f. MLG, MDu. mite f. Gmc: prob. the same as
miter US var. of MITRE.
Mithraism n. the cult of the ancient Persian god Mithras associated with
the sun. ЬЬMithraic adj. Mithraist n. [L Mithras f. Gk
Mithras f. OPers. Mithra f. Skr. Mitra]
v.tr. (also -ise) render proof against a poison by
administering gradually increasing doses of it. ЬЬmithridatic
adj. mithridatism n. [f. mithridate a supposed universal
antidote attributed to Mithridates VI, king of Pontus d. 63 BC]
mitigate v.tr. make milder or less intense or severe; moderate (your
offer certainly mitigated their hostility). °Often confused
with militate. Ьmitigating circumstances Law circumstances
permitting greater leniency. ЬЬmitigable adj. mitigation n.
mitigator n. mitigatory adj. [ME f. L mitigare mitigat- f.
n. (pl. mitochondria) Biol. an organelle found in most
eukaryotic cells, containing enzymes for respiration and energy
production. [mod.L f. Gk mitos thread + khondrion dimin. of
mitosis n. Biol. a type of cell division that results in two daughter
cells each having the same number and kind of chromosomes as the
parent nucleus (cf. MEIOSIS). ЬЬmitotic adj. [mod.L f. Gk
mitral adj. of or like a mitre. Ьmitral valve a two-cusped valve
between the left atrium and the left ventricle of the heart.
[mod.L mitralis f. L mitra girdle]
mitre n. & v. (US miter) --n. 1 a tall deeply-cleft head-dress worn
by bishops and abbots, esp. as a symbol of office. 2 the joint
of two pieces of wood or other material at an angle of 90ш, such
that the line of junction bisects this angle. 3 a diagonal join
of two pieces of fabric that meet at a corner, made by folding.
--v. 1 tr. bestow the mitre on. 2 tr. & intr. join with a
mitre. Ьmitre-block (or board or box) a guide for a saw in
cutting mitre-joints. mitre-wheels a pair of bevelled
cog-wheels with teeth set at 45ш and axes at right angles.
ЬЬmitred adj. [ME f. OF f. L mitra f. Gk mitra girdle, turban]
mitt n. 1 = MITTEN 1. 2 a glove leaving the fingers and thumb-tip
exposed. 3 sl. a hand or fist. 4 a baseball glove for catching
the ball. [abbr. of MITTEN]
mitten n. 1 a glove with two sections, one for the thumb and the other
for all four fingers. 2 sl. (in pl.) boxing gloves. ЬЬmittened
adj. [ME f. OF mitaine ult. f. L medietas half: see MOIETY]
mittimus n. a warrant committing a person to prison. [ME f. L, = we
mitzvah n. (pl. mitzvoth) in Judaism: 1 a precept or commandment. 2 a
good deed done from religious duty. [Heb. miswah commandment]
mix v. & n. --v. 1 tr. combine or put together (two or more
substances or things) so that the constituents of each are
diffused among those of the other(s). 2 tr. prepare (a
compound, cocktail, etc.) by combining the ingredients. 3 tr.
combine an activity etc. with another simultaneously (mix
business and pleasure). 4 intr. a join, be mixed, or combine,
esp. readily (oil and water will not mix). b be compatible. c
be sociable (must learn to mix). 5 intr. a (foll. by with) (of
a person) be harmonious or sociable with; have regular dealings
with. b (foll. by in) participate in. 6 tr. drink different
kinds of (alcoholic liquor) in close succession. --n. 1 a the
act or an instance of mixing; a mixture. b the proportion of
materials etc. in a mixture. 2 colloq. a group of persons of
different types (social mix). 3 the ingredients prepared
commercially for making a cake etc. or for a process such as
making concrete. 4 the merging of film pictures or sound. Ьbe
mixed up in (or with) be involved in or with (esp. something
undesirable). mix in be harmonious or sociable. mix it colloq.
start fighting. mix up 1 mix thoroughly. 2 confuse; mistake
the identity of. mix-up n. a confusion, misunderstanding, or
mistake. ЬЬmixable adj. [back-form. f. MIXED (taken as past
mixed adj. 1 of diverse qualities or elements. 2 containing persons
from various backgrounds etc. 3 for or involving persons of
both sexes (a mixed school; mixed bathing). Ьmixed bag (or
bunch) a diverse assortment of things or persons. mixed
blessing a thing having advantages and disadvantages. mixed
crystal one formed from more than one substance. mixed doubles
Tennis a doubles game with a man and a woman as partners on each
side. mixed economy an economic system combining private and
State enterprise. mixed farming farming of both crops and
livestock. mixed feelings a mixture of pleasure and dismay
about something. mixed grill a dish of various grilled meats
and vegetables etc. mixed marriage a marriage between persons
of different races or religions. mixed metaphor a combination
of inconsistent metaphors (e.g. this tower of strength will
forge ahead). mixed number an integer and a proper fraction.
mixed-up colloq. mentally or emotionally confused; socially
ill-adjusted. ЬЬmixedness n. [ME mixt f. OF mixte f. L mixtus
past part. of miscere mix]
mixer n. 1 a device for mixing foods etc. or for processing other
materials. 2 a person who manages socially in a specified way
(a good mixer). 3 a (usu. soft) drink to be mixed with another.
4 Broadcasting & Cinematog. a a device for merging input
signals to produce a combined output in the form of sound or
pictures. b a person who operates this. Ьmixer tap a tap
through which mixed hot and cold water is drawn by means of
mixture n. 1 the process of mixing or being mixed. 2 the result of
mixing; something mixed; a combination. 3 Chem. the product of
the random distribution of one substance through another without
any chemical reaction taking place between the components, as
distinct from a chemical compound. 4 ingredients mixed together
to produce a substance, esp. a medicine (cough mixture). 5 a
person regarded as a combination of qualities and attributes. 6
gas or vaporized petrol or oil mixed with air, forming an
explosive charge in an internal-combustion engine. Ьthe mixture
as before the same treatment repeated. [ME f. F mixture or L
mixtura (as MIXED)]
mizen n. (also mizzen) Naut. (in full mizen-sail) the lowest
fore-and-aft sail of a fully rigged ship's mizen-mast.
Ьmizen-mast the mast next aft of the mainmast. mizen yard that
on which the mizen is extended. [ME f. F misaine f. It.
mezzana mizen-sail, fem. of mezzano middle: see MEZZANINE]
mizzle(1) n. & v.intr. drizzle. ЬЬmizzly adj. [ME, prob. f. LG miseln:
cf. MDu. miezelen]
mizzle(2) v.intr. Brit. sl. run away; decamp. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
MO abbr. 1 Medical Officer. 2 money order. 3 US Missouri (in
official postal use).
Mo symb. Chem. the element molybdenum.
Mo. abbr. Missouri.
mo n. (pl. mos) colloq. a moment (wait a mo). [abbr.]
mo. abbr. US month.
moa n. (pl. moas) any extinct flightless New Zealand bird of the
family Dinornithidae, resembling the ostrich. [Maori]
moan n. & v. --n. 1 a long murmur expressing physical or mental
suffering. 2 a low plaintive sound of wind etc. 3 a complaint;
a grievance. --v. 1 intr. make a moan or moans. 2 intr.
colloq. complain or grumble. 3 tr. a utter with moans. b
lament. ЬЬmoaner n. moanful adj. moaningly adv. [ME f. OE
man (unrecorded) f. Gmc]
moat n. & v. --n. a deep defensive ditch round a castle, town, etc.,
usu. filled with water. --v.tr. surround with or as with a
moat. [ME mot(e) f. OF mote, motte mound]
mob n. & v. --n. 1 a disorderly crowd; a rabble. 2 (prec. by the)
usu. derog. the populace. 3 colloq. a gang; an associated
group of persons. 4 Austral. a flock or herd. --v.tr. & intr.
(mobbed, mobbing) 1 tr. a crowd round in order to attack or
admire. b (of a mob) attack. c US crowd into (a building). 2
intr. assemble in a mob. Ьmob law (or rule) law or rule imposed
and enforced by a mob. ЬЬmobber n. & adj. [abbr. of mobile,
short for L mobile vulgus excitable crowd: see MOBILE]
mob-cap n. hist. a woman's large indoor cap covering all the hair,
worn in the 18th and early 19th c. [obs. (18th-c.) mob, orig.
= slut + CAP]
mobile adj. & n. --adj. 1 movable; not fixed; free or able to move or
flow easily. 2 (of the face etc.) readily changing its
expression. 3 (of a shop, library, etc.) accommodated in a
vehicle so as to serve various places. 4 (of a person) able to
change his or her social status. --n. a decorative structure
that may be hung so as to turn freely. Ьmobile home a large
caravan permanently parked and used as a residence. mobile
sculpture a sculpture having moving parts. ЬЬmobility n. [ME
f. F f. L mobilis f. movere move]
mobilize v. (also -ise) 1 a tr. organize for service or action (esp.
troops in time of war). b intr. be organized in this way. 2
tr. render movable; bring into circulation. ЬЬmobilizable adj.
mobilization n. mobilizer n. [F mobiliser (as MOBILE)]
n. Math. a one-sided surface formed by joining the ends of a
rectangle after twisting one end through 180ш. [A. F. M”bius,
Ger. mathematician d. 1868]
mobocracy n. (pl. -ies) colloq. 1 rule by a mob. 2 a ruling mob.
mobster n. sl. a gangster.
moccasin n. 1 a type of soft leather slipper or shoe with combined sole
and heel, as orig. worn by N. American Indians. 2 (in full
water moccasin) US a poisonous American snake of the genus
Agkistrodon piscivorus. [Amer. Ind. mockasin, makisin]
mocha n. 1 a coffee of fine quality. 2 a beverage or flavouring made
with this, often with chocolate added. 3 a soft kind of
sheepskin. [Mocha, a port on the Red Sea, from where the coffee
mock v., adj., & n. --v. 1 a tr. ridicule; scoff at. b intr.
(foll. by at) act with scorn or contempt for. 2 tr. mimic
contemptuously. 3 tr. jeer, defy, or delude contemptuously.
--attrib.adj. sham, imitation (esp. without intention to
deceive); pretended (a mock battle; mock cream). --n. 1 a
thing deserving scorn. 2 (in pl.) colloq. mock examinations.
Ьmake mock (or a mock) of ridicule. mock-heroic adj. (of a
literary style) burlesquing a heroic style. --n. such a style.
mock moon paraselene. mock orange a white-flowered
heavy-scented shrub, Philadelphus coronarius. mock sun
parhelion. mock turtle soup soup made from a calf's head etc.
to resemble turtle soup. mock-up an experimental model or
replica of a proposed structure etc. ЬЬmockable adj. mockingly
adv. [ME mokke, mocque f. OF mo(c)quer deride f. Rmc]
mocker n. a person who mocks. Ьput the mockers on sl. 1 bring bad
luck to. 2 put a stop to.
mockery n. (pl. -ies) 1 a derision, ridicule. b a subject or occasion
of this. 2 (often foll. by of) a counterfeit or absurdly
inadequate representation. 3 a ludicrously or insultingly
futile action etc. [ME f. OF moquerie (as MOCK)]
n. a bird that mimics the notes of other birds, esp. the
American songbird Mimus polyglottos.
MOD abbr. (in the UK) Ministry of Defence.
mod(1) adj. & n. colloq. --adj. modern, esp. in style of dress. --n.
Brit. a young person (esp. in the 1960s) of a group aiming at
sophistication and smart modern dress. Ьmod cons modern
mod(2) prep. Math. = MODULO. [abbr.]
mod(3) n. a Highland Gaelic meeting for music and poetry. [Gael.
modal adj. 1 of or relating to mode or form as opposed to substance.
2 Gram. a of or denoting the mood of a verb. b (of an
auxiliary verb, e.g. would) used to express the mood of another
verb. c (of a particle) denoting manner. 3 Statistics of or
relating to a mode; occurring most frequently in a sample or
population. 4 Mus. denoting a style of music using a particular
mode. 5 Logic (of a proposition) in which the predicate is
affirmed of the subject with some qualification, or which
involves the affirmation of possiblity, impossibility,
necessity, or contingency. ЬЬmodally adv. [med.L modalis f. L
modality n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state of being modal. 2 (in sing. or pl.)
a prescribed method of procedure. [med.L modalitas (as MODAL)]
mode n. 1 a way or manner in which a thing is done; a method of
procedure. 2 a prevailing fashion or custom. 3 Computing a way
of operating or using a system (print mode). 4 Statistics the
value that occurs most frequently in a given set of data. 5
Mus. a each of the scale systems that result when the white
notes of the piano are played consecutively over an octave
(Lydian mode). b each of the two main modern scale systems, the
major and minor (minor mode). 6 Logic a the character of a
modal proposition. b = MOOD(2). 7 Physics any of the distinct
kinds or patterns of vibration of an oscillating system. 8 US
Gram. = MOOD(2). [F mode and L modus measure]
model n. & v. --n. 1 a representation in three dimensions of an
existing person or thing or of a proposed structure, esp. on a
smaller scale (often attrib.: a model train). 2 a simplified
(often mathematical) description of a system etc., to assist
calculations and predictions. 3 a figure in clay, wax, etc., to
be reproduced in another material. 4 a particular design or
style of a structure or commodity, esp. of a car. 5 a an
exemplary person or thing (a model of self-discipline). b
(attrib.) ideal, exemplary (a model student). 6 a person
employed to pose for an artist or photographer or to display
clothes etc. by wearing them. 7 a garment etc. by a well-known
designer, or a copy of this. --v. (modelled, modelling; US
modeled, modeling) 1 tr. a fashion or shape (a figure) in clay,
wax, etc. b (foll. by after, on, etc.) form (a thing in
imitation of). 2 a intr. act or pose as a model. b tr. (of a
person acting as a model) display (a garment). 3 tr. devise a
(usu. mathematical) model of (a phenomenon, system, etc.). 4
tr. Painting cause to appear three-dimensional. ЬЬmodeller n.
[F modelle f. It. modello ult. f. L modulus: see MODULUS]
modem n. a combined device for modulation and demodulation, e.g.
between a computer and a telephone line. [modulator +
moderate adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 avoiding extremes; temperate in
conduct or expression. 2 fairly or tolerably large or good. 3
(of the wind) of medium strength. 4 (of prices) fairly low.
--n. a person who holds moderate views, esp. in politics. --v.
1 tr. & intr. make or become less violent, intense, rigorous,
etc. 2 tr. (also absol.) act as a moderator of or to. 3 tr.
Physics retard (neutrons) with a moderator. ЬЬmoderately adv.
moderateness n. moderatism n. [ME f. L moderatus past part. of
moderare reduce, control: rel. to MODEST]
n. 1 the process or an instance of moderating. 2 the quality
of being moderate. 3 Physics the retardation of neutrons by a
moderator (see MODERATOR 5). 4 (in pl.) (Moderations) the first
public examination in some faculties for the Oxford BA degree.
Ьin moderation in a moderate manner or degree. [ME f. OF f. L
moderatio -onis (as MODERATE)]
moderato adj., adv., & n. Mus. --adj. & adv. performed at a moderate
pace. --n. (pl. -os) a piece of music to be performed in this
way. [It. (as MODERATE)]
moderator n. 1 an arbitrator or mediator. 2 a presiding officer. 3
Eccl. a Presbyterian minister presiding over an ecclesiastical
body. 4 an examiner for Moderations. 5 Physics a substance
used in a nuclear reactor to retard neutrons. ЬЬmoderatorship
n. [ME f. L (as MODERATE)]
modern adj. & n. --adj. 1 of the present and recent times. 2 in
current fashion; not antiquated. --n. (usu. in pl.) a person
living in modern times. Ьmodern English English from about 1500
onwards. modern history history from the end of the Middle Ages
to the present day. ЬЬmodernity n. modernly adv. modernness
n. [F moderne or LL modernus f. L modo just now]
modernism n. 1 a modern ideas or methods. b the tendency of religious
belief to harmonize with modern ideas. 2 a modern term or
expression. ЬЬmodernist n. modernistic adj. modernistically
modernize v. (also -ise) 1 tr. make modern; adapt to modern needs or
habits. 2 intr. adopt modern ways or views. ЬЬmodernization n.
modest adj. 1 having or expressing a humble or moderate estimate of
one's own merits or achievements. 2 diffident, bashful,
retiring. 3 decorous in manner and conduct. 4 moderate or
restrained in amount, extent, severity, etc.; not excessive or
exaggerated (a modest sum). 5 (of a thing) unpretentious in
appearance etc. ЬЬmodestly adv. [F modeste f. L modestus
keeping due measure]
modesty n. the quality of being modest.
modicum n. (foll. by of) a small quantity. [L, = short distance or
time, neut. of modicus moderate f. modus measure]
n. 1 the act or an instance of modifying or being modified. 2
a change made. [F or f. L modificatio (as MODIFY)]
modifier n. 1 a person or thing that modifies. 2 Gram. a word, esp. an
adjective or noun used attributively, that qualifies the sense
of another word (e.g. good and family in a good family house).
modify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 make less severe or extreme; tone down
(modify one's demands). 2 make partial changes in; make
different. 3 Gram. qualify or expand the sense of (a word
etc.). 4 Phonet. change (a vowel) by umlaut. 5 Chem. change or
replace all the substituent radicals of a polymer, thereby
changing its physical properties such as solubility etc.
(modified starch). ЬЬmodifiable adj. modificatory adj. [ME f.
OF modifier f. L modificare (as MODE)]
modillion n. Archit. a projecting bracket under the corona of a cornice
in the Corinthian and other orders. [F modillon f. It.
modiglione ult. f. L mutulus mutule]
modish adj. fashionable. ЬЬmodishly adv. modishness n.
modiste n. a milliner; a dressmaker. [F (as MODE)]
Mods n.pl. colloq. Moderations (see MODERATION 4). [abbr.]
modular adj. of or consisting of modules or moduli. ЬЬmodularity n.
[mod.L modularis f. L modulus: see MODULUS]
modulate v. 1 tr. a regulate or adjust. b moderate. 2 tr. adjust or
vary the tone or pitch of (the speaking voice). 3 tr. alter the
amplitude or frequency of (a wave) by a wave of a lower
frequency to convey a signal. 4 intr. & tr. Mus. (often foll.
by from, to) change or cause to change from one key to another.
ЬЬmodulation n. modulator n. [L modulari modulat- to measure
f. modus measure]
module n. 1 a standardized part or independent unit used in
construction, esp. of furniture, a building, or an electronic
system. 2 an independent self-contained unit of a spacecraft
(lunar module). 3 a unit or period of training or education. 4
a a standard or unit of measurement. b Archit. a unit of length
for expressing proportions, e.g. the semidiameter of a column at
the base. [F module or L modulus: see MODULUS]
modulo prep. & adj. Math. using, or with respect to, a modulus (see
MODULUS 2). [L, ablat. of MODULUS]
modulus n. (pl. moduli) Math. 1 a the magnitude of a real number
without regard to its sign. b the positive square root of the
sum of the squares of the real and imaginary parts of a complex
number. 2 a constant factor or ratio. 3 (in number theory) a
number used as a divisor for considering numbers in sets giving
the same remainder when divided by it. 4 a constant indicating
the relation between a physical effect and the force producing
it. [L, = measure, dimin. of modus]
n. (pl. modi operandi) 1 the particular way in which a person
performs a task or action. 2 the way a thing operates. [L, =
way of operating: see MODE]
n. (pl. modi vivendi) 1 a way of living or coping. 2 a an
arrangement whereby those in dispute can carry on pending a
settlement. b an arrangement between people who agree to
differ. [L, = way of living: see MODE]
mofette n. 1 a fumerole. 2 an exhalation of vapour from this. [F
mofette or Neapolitan It. mofetta]
mog n. (also moggie) Brit. sl. a cat. [20th c.: of dial. orig.]
Mogadon n. propr. a hypnotic drug used to treat insomnia.
mogul n. 1 colloq. an important or influential person. 2 (Mogul)
hist. a = MUGHAL. b (often the Great Mogul) any of the
emperors of Delhi in the 16th-19th c. [Pers. mugul: see
MOH abbr. Medical Officer of Health.
mohair n. 1 the hair of the angora goat. 2 a yarn or fabric from
this, either pure or mixed with wool or cotton. [ult. f. Arab.
mukayyar, lit. choice, select]
var. of MUHAMMADAN.
Mohawk n. 1 a a member of a tribe of N. American Indians. b the
language of this tribe. 2 Skating a step from either edge of
the skate to the same edge on the other foot in the opposite
direction. [native name]
Mohican n. & adj. --n. a member of a N. American Indian people of
Connecticut. --adj. 1 of or relating to this people. 2 (of a
hairstyle) resembling that of the Mohicans, with the head shaved
except for a strip of hair from the middle of the forehead to
the back of the neck, often worn in long spikes. [native name]
moho n. (pl. -os) Geol. a boundary of discontinuity separating the
earth's crust and mantle. [A. Mohorovicic, Yugoslav
seismologist d. 1936]
moidore n. hist. a Portuguese gold coin, current in England in the
18th c. [Port. moeda d'ouro money of gold]
moiety n. (pl. -ies) Law or literary 1 a half. 2 each of the two
parts into which a thing is divided. [ME f. OF moit‚, moiti‚ f.
L medietas -tatis middle f. medius (adj.) middle]
moil v. & n. archaic --v.intr. drudge (esp. toil and moil). --n.
drudgery. [ME f. OF moillier moisten, paddle in mud, ult. f. L
moire n. (in full moire antique) watered fabric, orig. mohair, now
usu. silk. [F (earlier mouaire) f. MOHAIR]
moir‚ adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of silk) watered. 2 (of metal) having a
patterned appearance like watered silk. --n. 1 this patterned
appearance. 2 = MOIRE. [F, past part. of moirer (as MOIRE)]
moist adj. 1 a slightly wet; damp. b (of the season etc.) rainy. 2
(of a disease) marked by a discharge of matter etc. ЬЬmoistly
adv. moistness n. [ME f. OF moiste, ult. from or rel. to L
mucidus (see MUCUS) and musteus fresh (see MUST(2))]
moisten v.tr. & intr. make or become moist.
moisture n. water or other liquid diffused in a small quantity as
vapour, or within a solid, or condensed on a surface.
ЬЬmoistureless adj. [ME f. OF moistour (as MOIST)]
v.tr. (also -ise) make less dry (esp. the skin by use of a
cosmetic). ЬЬmoisturizer n.
moke n. sl. 1 Brit. a donkey. 2 Austral. a very poor horse. [19th
c.: orig. unkn.]
moksa n. Hinduism etc. release from the cycle of rebirth. [Skr.
mol abbr. = MOLE(4).
molal adj. Chem. (of a solution) containing one mole of solute per
kilogram of solvent. ЬЬmolality n. [MOLE(4) + -AL]
molar(1) adj. & n. --adj. (usu. of a mammal's back teeth) serving to
grind. --n. a molar tooth. [L molaris f. mola millstone]
molar(2) adj. 1 of or relating to mass. 2 acting on or by means of
large masses or units. [L moles mass]
molar(3) adj. Chem. 1 of a mass of substance usu. per mole (molar
latent heat). 2 (of a solution) containing one mole of solute
per litre of solvent. ЬЬmolarity n. [MOLE(4) + -AR(1)]
molasses n.pl. (treated as sing.) 1 uncrystallized syrup extracted from
raw sugar during refining. 2 US treacle. [Port. mela‡o f. LL
mellaceum MUST(2) f. mel honey]
mold US var. of MOULD(1), MOULD(2), MOULD(3).
molder US var. of MOULDER.
molding US var. of MOULDING.
moldy US var. of MOULDY.
mole(1) n. 1 any small burrowing insect-eating mammal of the family
Talpidae, esp. Talpa europaea, with dark velvety fur and very
small eyes. 2 colloq. a a spy established deep within an
organization and usu. dormant for a long period while attaining
a position of trust. b a betrayer of confidential information.
[ME molle, prob. f. MDu. moll(e), mol, MLG mol, mul]
mole(2) n. a small often slightly raised dark blemish on the skin
caused by a high concentration of melanin. [OE mal f. Gmc]
mole(3) n. 1 a massive structure serving as a pier, breakwater, or
causeway. 2 an artificial harbour. [F m“le f. L moles mass]
mole(4) n. Chem. the SI unit of amount of substance equal to the
quantity containing as many elementary units as there are atoms
in 0.012 kg of carbon-12. [G Mol f. MolekЃl MOLECULE]
mole(5) n. Med. an abnormal mass of tissue in the uterus. [F m“le f.
L mola millstone]
molecular adj. of, relating to, or consisting of molecules. Ьmolecular
biology the study of the structure and function of large
molecules associated with living organisms. molecular sieve a
crystalline substance with pores of molecular dimensions which
permit the entry of certain molecules but are impervious to
others. molecular weight = relative molecular mass.
ЬЬmolecularity n. molecularly adv.
molecule n. 1 Chem. the smallest fundamental unit (usu. a group of
atoms) of a chemical compound that can take part in a chemical
reaction. 2 (in general use) a small particle. [F mol‚cule f.
mod.L molecula dimin. of L moles mass]
molehill n. a small mound thrown up by a mole in burrowing. Ьmake a
mountain out of a molehill exaggerate the importance of a minor
moleskin n. 1 the skin of a mole used as fur. 2 a a kind of cotton
fustian with its surface shaved before dyeing. b (in pl.)
clothes, esp. trousers, made of this.
molest v.tr. 1 annoy or pester (a person) in a hostile or injurious
way. 2 attack or interfere with (a person), esp. sexually.
ЬЬmolestation n. molester n. [OF molester or L molestare annoy
f. molestus troublesome]
moline adj. Heraldry (of a cross) having each extremity broadened and
curved back. [prob. f. AF molin‚ f. molin MILL(1), because of
the resemblance to the iron support of a millstone]
moll n. sl. 1 a gangster's female companion. 2 a prostitute.
[pet-form of the name Mary]
mollify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 appease, pacify. 2 reduce the severity
of; soften. ЬЬmollification n. mollifier n. [ME f. F
mollifier or L mollificare f. mollis soft]
mollusc n. (US mollusk) any invertebrate of the phylum Mollusca, with a
soft body and usu. a hard shell, including limpets, snails,
cuttlefish, oysters, mussels, etc. ЬЬmolluscan adj. molluscoid
adj. molluscous adj. [mod.L mollusca neut. pl. of L molluscus
f. mollis soft]
v. & n. --v.tr. coddle, pamper. --n. an effeminate man or boy;
a milksop. [formed as MOLL + CODDLE]
mollymawk n. (also mallemuck) any of various small kinds of albatross or
similar birds. [Du. mallemok f. mal foolish + mok gull]
Moloch n. 1 a a Canaanite idol to whom children were sacrificed. b a
tyrannical object of sacrifices. 2 (moloch) the spiny
slow-moving grotesque Australian reptile, Moloch horridus. [LL
f. Gk Molokh f. Heb. molek]
n. a crude incendiary device usu. consisting of a bottle filled
with inflammable liquid. [V. M. Molotov, Russian statesman d.
molt US var. of MOULT.
molten adj. melted, esp. made liquid by heat. [past part. of MELT]
molto adv. Mus. very (molto sostenuto; allegro molto). [It. f. L
moly n. (pl. -ies) 1 an alliaceous plant, Allium moly, with small
yellow flowers. 2 a mythical herb with white flowers and black
roots, endowed with magic properties. [L f. Gk molu]
n. molybdenum disulphide as an ore.
n. Chem. a silver-white brittle metallic transition element
occurring naturally in molybdenite and used in steel to give
strength and resistance to corrosion. °Symb.: Mo. [mod.L,
earlier molybdena, orig. = molybdenite, lead ore: L molybdena f.
Gk molubdaina plummet f. molubdos lead]
mom n. US colloq. mother. [abbr. of MOMMA]
moment n. 1 a very brief portion of time; an instant. 2 a short
period of time (wait a moment) (see also MINUTE(1)). 3 an exact
or particular point of time (at last the moment arrived; I came
the moment you called). 4 importance (of no great moment). 5
Physics & Mech. etc. a the turning effect produced by a force
acting at a distance on an object. b this effect expressed as
the product of the force and the distance from its line of
action to a point. Ьat the moment at this time; now. in a
moment 1 very soon. 2 instantly. man (or woman etc.) of the
moment the one of importance at the time in question. moment of
inertia Physics the quantity by which the angular acceleration
of a body must be multiplied to give corresponding torque.
moment of truth a time of crisis or test (orig. the final
sword-thrust in a bullfight). not for a (or one) moment never;
not at all. this moment immediately; at once (come here this
moment). [ME f. OF f. L momentum: see MOMENTUM]
momenta pl. of MOMENTUM.
adv. 1 for a moment. 2 US a at any moment. b instantly.
momentary adj. 1 lasting only a moment. 2 short-lived; transitory.
ЬЬmomentariness n. [L momentarius (as MOMENT)]
momently adv. literary 1 from moment to moment. 2 every moment. 3 for
momentous adj. having great importance. ЬЬmomentously adv.
momentum n. (pl. momenta) 1 Physics the quantity of motion of a moving
body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity. 2 the
impetus gained by movement. 3 strength or continuity derived
from an initial effort. [L f. movimentum f. movere move]
momma n. var. of MAMMA(1).
mommy n. (pl. -ies) esp. US = MUMMY(1).
Mon. abbr. Monday.
monad n. 1 the number one; a unit. 2 Philos. any ultimate unit of
being (e.g. a soul, an atom, a person, God). 3 Biol. a simple
organism, e.g. one assumed as the first in the genealogy of
living beings. ЬЬmonadic adj. monadism n. (in sense 2). [F
monade or LL monas monad- f. Gk monas -ados unit f. monos
adj. Bot. 1 (of stamens) having filaments united into one
bundle. 2 (of a plant) with such stamens. [Gk monos one +
monadnock n. a steep-sided isolated hill resistant to erosion and rising
above a plain. [Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire, US]
monandry n. 1 the custom of having only one husband at a time. 2 Bot.
the state of having a single stamen. ЬЬmonandrous adj. [MONO-
monarch n. 1 a sovereign with the title of king, queen, emperor,
empress, or the equivalent. 2 a supreme ruler. 3 a powerful or
pre-eminent person. 4 a large orange and black butterfly,
Danaus plexippus. ЬЬmonarchal adj. monarchic adj. monarchical
adj. monarchically adv. [ME f. F monarque or LL monarcha f. Gk
monarkhes, -os, f. monos alone + arkho to rule]
n. the advocacy of or the principles of monarchy. ЬЬmonarchist
n. [F monarchisme (as MONARCHY)]
monarchy n. (pl. -ies) 1 a form of government with a monarch at the
head. 2 a State with this. ЬЬmonarchial adj. [ME f. OF
monarchie f. LL monarchia f. Gk monarkhia the rule of one (as
monastery n. (pl. -ies) the residence of a religious community, esp. of
monks living in seclusion. [ME f. eccl.L monasterium f. eccl.Gk
monasterion f. monazo live alone f. monos alone]
monastic adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to monasteries or the
religious communities living in them. 2 resembling these or
their way of life; solitary and celibate. --n. a monk or other
follower of a monastic rule. ЬЬmonastically adv. monasticism
n. monasticize v.tr. (also -ise). [F monastique or LL
monasticus f. Gk monastikos (as MONASTERY)]
monatomic adj. Chem. 1 (esp. of a molecule) consisting of one atom. 2
having one replaceable atom or radical.
monaural adj. 1 = MONOPHONIC. 2 of or involving one ear. ЬЬmonaurally
adv. [MONO- + AURAL]
monazite n. a phosphate mineral containing rare-earth elements and
thorium. [G Monazit f. Gk monazo live alone (because of its
mondaine adj. & n. --adj. 1 of the fashionable world. 2 worldly. --n.
a worldly or fashionable woman. [F, fem. of mondain: see
Monday n. & adv. --n. the second day of the week, following Sunday.
--adv. colloq. 1 on Monday. 2 (Mondays) on Monday; each
Monday. [OE monand‘g day of the moon, transl. LL lunae dies]
Monel n. (in full Monel metal) propr. a nickel-copper alloy with high
tensile strength and resisting corrosion. [A. Monell, US
businessman d. 1921]
n. the theory or practice of controlling the supply of money as
the chief method of stabilizing the economy.
n. & adj. --n. an advocate of monetarism. --adj. in accordance
with the principles of monetarism.
monetary adj. 1 of the currency in use. 2 of or consisting of money.
ЬЬmonetarily adv. [F mon‚taire or LL monetarius f. L (as
monetize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 give a fixed value as currency. 2 put (a
metal) into circulation as money. ЬЬmonetization n. [F
mon‚tiser f. L (as MONEY)]
money n. 1 a a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and
banknotes. b a particular form of this (silver money). 2 (pl.
-eys or -ies) (in pl.) sums of money. 3 a wealth; property
viewed as convertible into money. b wealth as giving power or
influence (money speaks). c a rich person or family (has
married into money). 4 a money as a resource (time is money).
b profit, remuneration (in it for the money). Ьfor my money in
my opinion or judgement; for my preference (is too aggressive
for my money). have money to burn see BURN(1). in the money
colloq. having or winning a lot of money. money box a box for
saving money dropped through a slit. money-changer a person
whose business it is to change money, esp. at an official rate.
money for jam (or old rope) colloq. profit for little or no
trouble. money-grubber colloq. a person greedily intent on
amassing money. money-grubbing n. this practice. --adj. given
to this. money market Stock Exch. trade in short-term stocks,
loans, etc. money of account see ACCOUNT. money order an order
for payment of a specified sum, issued by a bank or Post Office.
money spider a small household spider supposed to bring
financial luck. money-spinner a thing that brings in a profit.
money's-worth good value for one's money. put money into invest
in. ЬЬmoneyless adj. [ME f. OF moneie f. L moneta mint, money,
orig. a title of Juno, in whose temple at Rome money was minted]
moneybags n.pl. (treated as sing.) colloq. usu. derog. a wealthy
moneyed adj. 1 having much money; wealthy. 2 consisting of money
n. a person who lends money, esp. as a business, at interest.
ЬЬmoneylending n. & adj.
n. 1 a person who earns much money. 2 a thing, idea, etc.,
that produces much money. ЬЬmoneymaking n. & adj.
moneywort n. a trailing evergreen plant, Lysimachia nummularia, with
round glossy leaves and yellow flowers.
monger n. (usu. in comb.) 1 a dealer or trader (fishmonger;
ironmonger). 2 usu. derog. a person who promotes or deals in
something specified (warmonger; scaremonger). [OE mangere f.
mangian to traffic f. Gmc, ult. f. L mango dealer]
Mongol adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to the Asian people now
inhabiting Mongolia in Central Asia. 2 resembling this people,
esp. in appearance. 3 (mongol) often offens. suffering from
Down's syndrome. --n. 1 a Mongolian. 2 (mongol) often offens.
a person suffering from Down's syndrome. [native name: perh. f.
Mongolian n. & adj. --n. a native or inhabitant of Mongolia; the language
of Mongolia. --adj. of or relating to Mongolia or its people or
mongolism n. = DOWN'S SYNDROME. °The term Down's syndrome is now much
preferred in medical circles. [MONGOL + -ISM, because its
physical characteristics were thought to be reminiscent of
Mongoloid adj. & n. --adj. 1 characteristic of the Mongolians, esp. in
having a broad flat yellowish face. 2 (mongoloid) often offens.
having the characteristic symptoms of Down's syndrome. --n. a
Mongoloid or mongoloid person.
mongoose n. (pl. mongooses) any of various small flesh-eating
civet-like mammals of the family Viverridae, esp. of the genus
Herpestes. [Marathi mangus]
mongrel n. & adj. --n. 1 a dog of no definable type or breed. 2 any
other animal or plant resulting from the crossing of different
breeds or types. 3 derog. a person of mixed race. --adj. of
mixed origin, nature, or character. ЬЬmongrelism n. mongrelize
v.tr. (also -ise). mongrelization n. mongrelly adj. [earlier
meng-, mang- f. Gmc: prob. rel. to MINGLE]
'mongst poet. var. of AMONGST. [see AMONG]
monial n. a mullion. [ME f. OF moinel middle f. moien MEAN(3)]
monicker var. of MONIKER.
monies see MONEY 2.
moniker n. (also monicker, monniker) sl. a name. [19th c.: orig.
adj. with a form suggesting a string of beads. [F moniliforme
or mod.L moniliformis f. L monile necklace]
monism n. 1 any theory denying the duality of matter and mind. 2 the
doctrine that only one ultimate principle or being exists.
ЬЬmonist n. monistic adj. [mod.L monismus f. Gk monos single]
monition n. 1 (foll. by of) literary a warning (of danger). 2 Eccl. a
formal notice from a bishop or ecclesiastical court admonishing
a person not to commit an offence. [ME f. OF f. L monitio -onis
monitor n. & v. --n. 1 any of various persons or devices for checking
or warning about a situation, operation, etc. 2 a school pupil
with disciplinary or other special duties. 3 a a television
receiver used in a studio to select or verify the picture being
broadcast. b = visual display unit. 4 a person who listens to
and reports on foreign broadcasts etc. 5 a detector of
radioactive contamination. 6 Zool. any tropical lizard of the
genus Varanus, supposed to give warning of the approach of
crocodiles. 7 a heavily armed shallow-draught warship. --v.tr.
1 act as a monitor of. 2 maintain regular surveillance over. 3
regulate the strength of (a recorded or transmitted signal).
ЬЬmonitorial adj. monitorship n. [L f. monere monit- warn]
monitory adj. & n. --adj. literary giving or serving as a warning.
--n. (pl. -ies) Eccl. a letter of admonition from the pope or
a bishop. [L monitorius (as MONITION)]
monk n. a member of a religious community of men living under
certain vows esp. of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
ЬЬmonkish adj. [OE munuc ult. f. Gk monakhos solitary f. monos
monkey n. & v. --n. (pl. -eys) 1 any of various New World and Old
World primates esp. of the families Cebidae (including
capuchins), Callitrichidae (including marmosets and tamarins),
and Cercopithecidae (including baboons and apes). 2 a
mischievous person, esp. a child (young monkey). 3 sl. a Brit.
њ500. b US $500. 4 (in full monkey engine) a machine hammer
for pile-driving etc. --v. (-eys, -eyed) 1 tr. mimic or mock.
2 intr. (often foll. by with) tamper or play mischievous tricks.
3 intr. (foll. by around, about) fool around. Ьhave a monkey on
one's back sl. be a drug addict. make a monkey of humiliate by
making appear ridiculous. monkey bread the baobab tree or its
fruit. monkey business colloq. mischief. monkey flower a
mimulus, esp. Mimulus cardinalis, with bright yellow flowers.
monkey-jacket a short close-fitting jacket worn by sailors etc.
or at a mess. monkey-nut a peanut. monkey-puzzle a coniferous
tree, Araucaria araucaria, native to Chile, with
downward-pointing branches and small close-set leaves.
monkey-suit colloq. evening dress. monkey tricks colloq.
mischief. monkey wrench a wrench with an adjustable jaw.
ЬЬmonkeyish adj. [16th c.: orig. unkn. (perh. LG)]
n. (usu. in pl.) US colloq. = monkey tricks.
monkfish n. 1 an angler-fish, esp. Lophius piscatorius, often used as
food. 2 a large cartilaginous fish, Squatina squatina, with a
flattened body and large pectoral fins. Also called angel-shark.
monkshood n. Bot. a poisonous garden plant Aconitum napellus, with
hood-shaped blue or purple flowers.
monniker var. of MONIKER.
mono adj. & n. colloq. --adj. monophonic. --n. (pl. -os) a
monophonic record, reproduction, etc. [abbr.]
mono- comb. form (usu. mon- before a vowel) 1 one, alone, single. 2
Chem. (forming names of compounds) containing one atom or group
of a specified kind. [Gk f. monos alone]
monoacid adj. Chem. (of a base) having one replaceable hydroxide ion.
monobasic adj. Chem. (of an acid) having one replaceable hydrogen atom.
adj. (also monocarpous) Bot. bearing fruit only once. [MONO-
+ Gk karpos fruit]
adj. in terms of a sole cause.
adj. Bot. having only one head.
monochord n. Mus. an instrument with a single string and a movable
bridge, used esp. to determine intervals. [ME f. OF monocorde
f. LL monochordon f. Gk monokhordon (as MONO-, CHORD(1))]
adj. 1 Physics (of light or other radiation) of a single
wavelength or frequency. 2 containing only one colour.
n. complete colour-blindness in which all colours appear as
shades of one colour.
n. & adj. --n. a photograph or picture done in one colour or
different tones of this, or in black and white only. --adj.
having or using only one colour or in black and white only.
ЬЬmonochromic adj. [ult. f. Gk monokhromatos (as MONO-,
khromatos f. khroma colour)]
monocle n. a single eyeglass. ЬЬmonocled adj. [F, orig. adj. f. LL
monoculus one-eyed (as MONO-, oculus eye)]
monocline n. Geol. a bend in rock strata that are otherwise uniformly
dipping or horizontal. ЬЬmonoclinal adj. [MONO- + Gk klino
adj. (of a crystal) having one axial intersection oblique.
[MONO- + Gk klino lean, slope]
adj. forming a single clone; derived from a single individual
or cell. Ьmonoclonal antibodies antibodies produced
artificially by a single clone and consisting of identical
monocoque n. Aeron. an aircraft or vehicle structure in which the
chassis is integral with the body. [F (as MONO-, coque shell)]
monocot n. = MONOCOTYLEDON. [abbr.]
n. Bot. any flowering plant with a single cotyledon.
monocracy n. (pl. -ies) government by one person only. ЬЬmonocratic
monocular adj. with or for one eye. ЬЬmonocularly adj. [LL monoculus
having one eye]
n. the cultivation of a single crop.
monocycle n. = UNICYCLE.
monocyte n. Biol. a large type of leucocyte.
adj. having one finger, toe, or claw.
monodrama n. a dramatic piece for one performer.
monody n. (pl. -ies) 1 an ode sung by a single actor in a Greek
tragedy. 2 a poem lamenting a person's death. 3 Mus. a
composition with only one melodic line. ЬЬmonodic adj.
monodist n. [LL monodia f. Gk monoidia f. monoidos singing
alone (as MONO-, ODE)]
adj. 1 Bot. with unisexual male and female organs on the same
plant. 2 Zool. hermaphrodite. [mod.L Monoecia the class of
such plants (Linnaeus) f. Gk monos single + oikos house]
n. 1 a single strand of man-made fibre. 2 a type of fishing
line using this.
monogamy n. 1 the practice or state of being married to one person at a
time. 2 Zool. the habit of having only one mate at a time.
ЬЬmonogamist n. monogamous adj. monogamously adv. [F
monogamie f. eccl.L f. Gk monogamia (as MONO-, gamos marriage)]
n. (also monogeny) 1 the theory of the development of all
beings from a single cell. 2 the theory that mankind descended
from one pair of ancestors. ЬЬmonogenetic adj.
monoglot adj. & n. --adj. using only one language. --n. a monoglot
monogram n. two or more letters, esp. a person's initials, interwoven as
a device. ЬЬmonogrammatic adj. monogrammed adj. [F monogramme
f. LL monogramma f. Gk (as MONO-, -GRAM)]
monograph n. & v. --n. a separate treatise on a single subject or an
aspect of it. --v.tr. write a monograph on. ЬЬmonographer n.
monographist n. monographic adj. [earlier monography f. mod.L
monographia f. monographus writer on a single genus or species
(as MONO-, -GRAPH, -GRAPHY)]
adj. Bot. having only one pistil.
monogyny n. the custom of having only one wife at a time.
monohull n. a boat with a single hull.
n. a hybrid with respect to only one allele.
adj. Chem. containing one hydroxyl group.
monokini n. a woman's one-piece beach-garment equivalent to the lower
half of a bikini. [MONO- + BIKINI, by false assoc. with BI-]
monolayer n. Chem. a layer only one molecule in thickness.
adj. speaking or using only one language.
monolith n. 1 a single block of stone, esp. shaped into a pillar or
monument. 2 a person or thing like a monolith in being massive,
immovable, or solidly uniform. 3 a large block of concrete.
ЬЬmonolithic adj. [F monolithe f. Gk monolithos (as MONO-,
monologue n. 1 a a scene in a drama in which a person speaks alone. b a
dramatic composition for one performer. 2 a long speech by one
person in a conversation etc. ЬЬmonologic adj. monological
adj. monologist n. (also -loguist). monologize v.intr. (also
-ise). [F f. Gk monologos speaking alone (as MONO-, -LOGUE)]
monomania n. obsession of the mind by one idea or interest. ЬЬmonomaniac
n. & adj. monomaniacal adj. [F monomanie (as MONO-, -MANIA)]
monomark n. Brit. a combination of letters, with or witout figures,
registered as an identification mark for goods, articles,
monomer n. Chem. 1 a unit in a dimer, trimer, or polymer. 2 a
molecule or compound that can be polymerized. ЬЬmonomeric adj.
monomial adj. & n. Math. --adj. (of an algebraic expression) consisting
of one term. --n. a monomial expression. [MONO- after
adj. Chem. (of a layer) only one molecule in thickness.
adj. (also monomorphous) Biochem. not changing form during
development. ЬЬmonomorphism n.
n. an abnormally high proportion of monocytes in the blood,
esp. = glandular fever. [MONO- + NUCLEO- + -OSIS]
adj. Bot. having the corolla in one piece, or the petals
united into a tube.
adj. 1 (of sound-reproduction) using only one channel of
transmission (cf. STEREOPHONIC). 2 Mus. homophonic.
ЬЬmonophonically adv. [MONO- + Gk phone sound]
n. Phonet. a single vowel sound. ЬЬmonophthongal adj. [Gk
monophthoggos (as MONO-, phthoggos sound)]
n. a person who holds that there is only one nature (partly
divine, partly and subordinately human) in the person of Christ.
[eccl.L monophysita f. eccl.Gk monophusites (as MONO-, phusis
monoplane n. an aeroplane with one set of wings (cf. BIPLANE).
n. a person who has or advocates a monopoly. ЬЬmonopolistic
v.tr. (also -ise) 1 obtain exclusive possession or control of
(a trade or commodity etc.). 2 dominate or prevent others from
sharing in (a conversation, person's attention, etc.).
ЬЬmonopolization n. monopolizer n.
monopoly n. (pl. -ies) 1 a the exclusive possession or control of the
trade in a commodity or service. b this conferred as a
privilege by the State. 2 a a commodity or service that is
subject to a monopoly. b a company etc. that possesses a
monopoly. 3 (foll. by of, US on) exclusive possession, control,
or exercise. [L monopolium f. Gk monopolion (as MONO-, poleo
monorail n. a railway in which the track consists of a single rail, usu.
elevated with the train units suspended from it.
n. Chem. a sugar that cannot be hydrolysed to give a simpler
sugar, e.g. glucose.
n. Chem. a sodium salt of glutamic acid used to flavour food
adj. Bot. having one seed. [MONO- + Gk sperma seed]
adj. Bot. & Zool. arranged in or consisting of one layer or
row. [MONO- + Gk stikhos row]
adj. 1 (of a word) having one syllable. 2 (of a person or
statement) using or expressed in monosyllables.
n. a word of one syllable. Ьin monosyllables in simple direct
n. the doctrine that there is only one God. ЬЬmonotheist n.
monotheistic adj. monotheistically adv. [MONO- + Gk theos god]
monotint n. = MONOCHROME.
monotone n. & adj. --n. 1 a sound or utterance continuing or repeated
on one note without change of pitch. 2 sameness of style in
writing. --adj. without change of pitch. [mod.L monotonus f.
late Gk monotonos (as MONO-, TONE)]
monotonic adj. 1 uttered in a monotone. 2 Math. (of a function or
quantity) varying in such a way that it either never decreases
or never increases. ЬЬmonotonically adv.
adj. 1 lacking in variety; tedious through sameness. 2 (of a
sound or utterance) without variation in tone or pitch.
ЬЬmonotonize v.tr. (also -ise). monotonously adv.
monotony n. 1 the state of being monotonous. 2 dull or tedious routine.
monotreme n. any mammal of the order Monotremata, native to Australia and
New Guinea, including the duckbill and spiny anteater, laying
large yolky eggs through a common opening for urine, faeces,
etc. [MONO- + Gk trema -matos hole]
monotype n. 1 (Monotype) Printing propr. a typesetting machine that
casts and sets up types in individual characters. 2 an
impression on paper made from an inked design painted on glass
monotypic adj. having only one type or representative.
adj. Chem. having a valency of one; univalent. ЬЬmonovalence
n. monovalency n.
monoxide n. Chem. an oxide containing one oxygen atom (carbon
monoxide). [MONO- + OXIDE]
n. the US policy of objecting to intervention by European
powers in the affairs of Latin America. [J. Monroe, US
President d. 1831, who formulated it]
n. (pl. Messeigneurs) a title given to an eminent French
person, esp. a prince, cardinal, archbishop, or bishop. [F f.
mon my + seigneur lord]
Monsieur n. (pl. Messieurs) 1 the title or form of address used of or
to a French-speaking man, corresponding to Mr or sir. 2 a
Frenchman. [F f. mon my + sieur lord]
Monsignor n. (pl. Monsignori) the title of various Roman Catholic
prelates, officers of the papal court, etc. [It., after
MONSEIGNEUR: see SIGNOR]
monsoon n. 1 a wind in S. Asia, esp. in the Indian Ocean, blowing from
the south west in summer (wet monsoon) and the north east in
winter (dry monsoon). 2 a rainy season accompanying a wet
monsoon. 3 any other wind with periodic alternations.
ЬЬmonsoonal adj. [obs. Du. monssoen f. Port. mon‡°.o f. Arab.
mawsim fixed season f. wasama to mark]
n. a rounded mass of fatty tissue lying over the joint of a
man's pubic bones. [L, = mount of the pubes]
monster n. 1 an imaginary creature, usu. large and frightening,
compounded of incongruous elements. 2 an inhumanly cruel or
wicked person. 3 a misshapen animal or plant. 4 a large
hideous animal or thing (e.g. a building). 5 (attrib.) huge;
extremely large of its kind. [ME f. OF monstre f. L monstrum
portent, monster f. monere warn]
monstera n. any climbing plant of the genus Monstera, including Swiss
cheese plant. [mod.L, perh. f. L monstrum monster (from the odd
appearance of its leaves)]
n. RC Ch. a vessel in which the Host is exposed for
veneration. [ME, = demonstration, f. med.L monstrantia f. L
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a huge or outrageous thing. 2 monstrousness.
3 = MONSTER 3. [LL monstrositas (as MONSTROUS)]
monstrous adj. 1 like a monster; abnormally formed. 2 huge. 3 a
outrageously wrong or absurd. b atrocious. ЬЬmonstrously adv.
monstrousness n. [ME f. OF monstreux or L monstrosus (as
n. a rounded mass of fatty tissue on a woman's abdomen above
the vulva. [L, = mount of Venus]
Mont. abbr. Montana.
montage n. 1 a a process of selecting, editing, and piecing together
separate sections of cinema or television film to form a
continuous whole. b a sequence of such film as a section of a
longer film. 2 a the technique of producing a new composite
whole from fragments of pictures, words, music, etc. b a
composition produced in this way. [F f. monter MOUNT(1)]
montane adj. of or inhabiting mountainous country. [L montanus (as
n. a hybrid plant of the genus Crocosmia, with bright
orange-yellow trumpet-shaped flowers . [mod.L f. A. F. E.
Coquebert de Montbret, Fr. botanist d. 1801]
monte n. Cards 1 a Spanish game of chance, played with 45 cards. 2
(in full three-card monte) a game of Mexican origin played with
three cards, similar to three-card trick. [Sp., = mountain,
heap of cards]
Monte Carlo method
n. Statistics a method of using the random sampling of numbers
in order to estimate the solution to a numerical problem.
[Monte Carlo in Monaco, famous for its gambling casino]
n. (usu. attrib.) a system of education (esp. of young
children) that seeks to develop natural interests and activities
rather than use formal teaching methods. [Maria Montessori, It.
educationist d. 1952, who initiated it]
month n. 1 (in full calendar month) a each of usu. twelve periods
into which a year is divided. b a period of time between the
same dates in successive calendar months. 2 a period of 28 days
or of four weeks. 3 = lunar month. Ьmonth of Sundays a very
long period. [OE monath f. Gmc, rel. to MOON]
monthly adj., adv., & n. --adj. done, produced, or occurring once a
month. --adv. once a month; from month to month. --n. (pl.
-ies) 1 a monthly periodical. 2 (in pl.) colloq. a menstrual
monticule n. 1 a small hill. 2 a small mound caused by a volcanic
eruption. [F f. LL monticulus dimin. of mons MOUNT(2)]
monument n. 1 anything enduring that serves to commemorate or make
celebrated, esp. a structure or building. 2 a stone or other
structure placed over a grave or in a church etc. in memory of
the dead. 3 an ancient building or site etc. that has survived
or been preserved. 4 (foll. by of, to) a typical or outstanding
example (a monument of indiscretion). 5 a written record. [ME
f. F f. L monumentum f. monere remind]
adj. 1 a extremely great; stupendous (a monumental
achievement). b (of a literary work) massive and permanent. 2
of or serving as a monument. Ьmonumental mason a maker of
tombstones etc. ЬЬmonumentality n. monumentally adv.
v.tr. (also -ise) record or commemorate by or as by a monument.
-mony suffix forming nouns esp. denoting an abstract state or quality
(acrimony; testimony). [L -monia, -monium, rel. to -MENT]
moo v. & n. --v.intr. (moos, mooed) make the characteristic vocal
sound of cattle; = LOW(2). --n. (pl. moos) this sound.
Ьmoo-cow a childish name for a cow. [imit.]
mooch v. colloq. 1 intr. loiter or saunter desultorily. 2 tr. esp.
US a steal. b beg. ЬЬmoocher n. [ME, prob. f. OF muchier
mood(1) n. 1 a state of mind or feeling. 2 (in pl.) fits of melancholy
or bad temper. 3 (attrib.) inducing a particular mood (mood
music). Ьin the (or no) mood (foll. by for, or to + infin.)
inclined (or disinclined) (was in no mood to agree). [OE mod
mind, thought, f. Gmc]
mood(2) n. 1 Gram. a a form or set of forms of a verb serving to
indicate whether it is to express fact, command, wish, etc.
(subjunctive mood). b the distinction of meaning expressed by
different moods. 2 Logic any of the classes into which each of
the figures of a valid categorical syllogism is subdivided.
[var. of MODE, assoc. with MOOD(1)]
moody adj. & n. --adj. (moodier, moodiest) given to changes of mood;
gloomy, sullen. --n. colloq. a bad mood; a tantrum. ЬЬmoodily
adv. moodiness n. [OE modig brave (as MOOD(1))]
Moog n. (in full Moog synthesizer) propr. an electronic instrument
with a keyboard, for producing a wide variety of musical sounds:
see SYNTHESIZER. [R. A. Moog, Amer. engineer b. 1934, who
moolah n. sl. money. [20th c.: orig. unkn.]
moolvi n. (also moolvie) 1 a Muslim doctor of the law. 2 a learned
person or teacher (esp. as a term of respect among Muslims in
India). [Urdu mulvi f. Arab. mawlawiy judicial: cf. MULLAH]
moon n. & v. --n. 1 a the natural satellite of the earth, orbiting
it monthly, illuminated by the sun and reflecting some light to
the earth. b this regarded in terms of its waxing and waning in
a particular month (new moon). c the moon when visible (there
is no moon tonight). 2 a satellite of any planet. 3 (prec. by
the) something desirable but unattainable (promised them the
moon). 4 poet. a month. --v. 1 intr. (often foll. by about,
around, etc.) move or look listlessly. 2 tr. (foll. by away)
spend (time) in a listless manner. 3 intr. (foll. by over) act
aimlessly or inattentively from infatuation for (a person).
Ьmoon boot a thickly-padded boot designed for low temperatures.
moon-faced having a round face. over the moon extremely happy
or delighted. ЬЬmoonless adj. [OE mona f. Gmc, rel. to MONTH]
moonbeam n. a ray of moonlight.
mooncalf n. a born fool.
moonfish n. = OPAH.
Moonie n. sl. a member of the Unification Church. [Sun Myung Moon,
moonlight n. & v. --n. 1 the light of the moon. 2 (attrib.) lighted by
the moon. --v.intr. (-lighted) colloq. have two paid
occupations, esp. one by day and one by night. Ьmoonlight flit
a hurried departure by night, esp. to avoid paying a debt.
moonlit adj. lighted by the moon.
moonquake n. a tremor of the moon's surface.
moonrise n. 1 the rising of the moon. 2 the time of this.
moonscape n. 1 the surface or landscape of the moon. 2 an area
resembling this; a wasteland.
moonset n. 1 the setting of the moon. 2 the time of this.
moonshee n. (also munshi) a secretary or language-teacher in India.
[Urdu munshi f. Arab. munsi' writer]
moonshine n. 1 foolish or unrealistic talk or ideas. 2 sl. illicitly
distilled or smuggled alcoholic liquor.
n. US sl. an illicit distiller or smuggler of alcoholic
moonshot n. the launching of a spacecraft to the moon.
moonstone n. feldspar of pearly appearance.
adj. mentally deranged.
moony adj. (moonier, mooniest) 1 listless; stupidly dreamy. 2 of or
like the moon.
Moor n. a member of a Muslim people of mixed Berber and Arab
descent, inhabiting NW Africa. [ME f. OF More f. L Maurus f. Gk
Mauros inhabitant of Mauretania, a region of N. Africa]
moor(1) n. 1 a tract of open uncultivated upland, esp. when covered
with heather. 2 a tract of ground preserved for shooting. 3 US
a fen. ЬЬmoorish adj. moory adj. [OE mor waste land, marsh,
mountain, f. Gmc]
moor(2) v. 1 tr. make fast (a boat, buoy, etc.) by attaching a cable
etc. to a fixed object. 2 intr. (of a boat) be moored.
ЬЬmoorage n. [ME more, prob. f. LG or MLG moren]
moorcock n. a male moorfowl.
moorfowl n. a red grouse.
moorhen n. 1 a small aquatic bird, Gallinula chloropus, with long legs
and a short red-yellow bill. 2 a female moorfowl.
mooring n. 1 a a fixed object to which a boat, buoy, etc., is moored.
b (often in pl.) a place where a boat etc. is moored. 2 (in
pl.) a set of permanent anchors and chains laid down for ships
to be moored to.
Moorish adj. of or relating to the Moors. ЬMoorish idol a
brightly-coloured Pacific fish of the genus Zanclus.
moorland n. an extensive area of moor.
moose n. (pl. same) a N. American deer; an elk. [Narragansett moos]
moot adj., v., & n. --adj. (orig. the noun used attrib.) 1
debatable, undecided (a moot point). 2 US Law having no
practical significance. --v.tr. raise (a question) for
discussion. --n. 1 hist. an assembly. 2 Law a discussion of a
hypothetical case as an academic exercise. [OE mot, and motian
converse, f. Gmc, rel. to MEET(1)]
mop(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a wad or bundle of cotton or synthetic material
fastened to the end of a stick, for cleaning floors etc. 2 a
similarly-shaped large or small implement for various purposes.
3 anything resembling a mop, esp. a thick mass of hair. 4 an
act of mopping or being mopped (gave it a mop). --v.tr.
(mopped, mopping) 1 wipe or clean with or as with a mop. 2 a
wipe tears or sweat etc. from (one's face or brow etc.). b wipe
away (tears etc.). Ьmop up 1 wipe up with or as with a mop. 2
colloq. absorb (profits etc.). 3 dispatch; make an end of. 4
Mil. a complete the occupation of (a district etc.) by
capturing or killing enemy troops left there. b capture or kill
(stragglers). ЬЬmoppy adj. [ME mappe, perh. ult. rel. to L
mop(2) n. Brit. hist. an autumn fair or gathering at which
farm-hands and servants were formerly hired. [perh. = mop-fair,
at which a mop was carried by a maidservant seeking employment]
mope v. & n. --v.intr. be gloomily depressed or listless; behave
sulkily. --n. 1 a person who mopes. 2 (the mopes) low
spirits. ЬЬmoper n. mopy adj. (mopier, mopiest). mopily adv.
mopiness n. [16th c.: prob. rel. to mope, mopp(e) fool]
moped n. a motorized bicycle with an engine capacity below 50 cc.
[Sw. (as MOTOR, PEDAL(1))]
mophead n. a person with thick matted hair.
mopoke n. (also morepork) 1 a boobook. 2 an Australian nocturnal
insect-eating bird, Podargus strigoides. Also called FROGMOUTH.
[imit. of the bird's cry]
moppet n. colloq. (esp. as a term of endearment) a baby or small
child. [obs. moppe baby, doll]
moquette n. a thick pile or looped material used for carpets and
upholstery. [F, perh. f. obs. It. mocaiardo mohair]
mor n. humus formed under acid conditions. [Da.]
moraine n. an area covered by rocks and debris carried down and
deposited by a glacier. ЬЬmorainal adj. morainic adj. [F f.
It. dial. morena f. F dial. mor(re) snout f. Rmc]
moral adj. & n. --adj. 1 a concerned with goodness or badness of
human character or behaviour, or with the distinction between
right and wrong. b concerned with accepted rules and standards
of human behaviour. 2 a conforming to accepted standards of
general conduct. b capable of moral action (man is a moral
agent). 3 (of rights or duties etc.) founded on moral law. 4 a
concerned with morals or ethics (moral philosophy). b (of a
literary work etc.) dealing with moral conduct. 5 concerned
with or leading to a psychological effect associated with
confidence in a right action (moral courage; moral support;
moral victory). --n. 1 a a moral lesson (esp. at the end) of a
fable, story, event, etc. b a moral maxim or principle. 2 (in
pl.) moral behaviour, e.g. in sexual conduct. Ьmoral certainty
probability so great as to allow no reasonable doubt. moral law
the conditions to be satisfied by any right course of action.
moral majority the majority of people, regarded as favouring
firm moral standards (orig. Moral Majority, name of a
right-wing US movement). moral philosophy the branch of
philosophy concerned with ethics. moral pressure persuasion by
appealing to a person's moral sense. Moral Re-Armament 1 =
OXFORD GROUP. 2 the beliefs of this organization, esp. as
applied to international relations. moral science systematic
knowledge as applied to morals. moral sense the ability to
distinguish right and wrong. ЬЬmorally adv. [ME f. L moralis
f. mos moris custom, pl. mores morals]
morale n. the mental attitude or bearing of a person or group, esp. as
regards confidence, discipline, etc. [F moral respelt to
preserve the pronunciation]
moralism n. 1 a natural system of morality. 2 religion regarded as
moralist n. 1 a person who practises or teaches morality. 2 a person
who follows a natural system of ethics. ЬЬmoralistic adj.
morality n. (pl. -ies) 1 the degree of conformity of an idea, practice,
etc., to moral principles. 2 right moral conduct. 3 a lesson
in morals. 4 the science of morals. 5 a particular system of
morals (commercial morality). 6 (in pl.) moral principles;
points of ethics. 7 (in full morality play) hist. a kind of
drama with personified abstract qualities as the main characters
and inculcating a moral lesson, popular in the 16th c. [ME f.
OF moralit‚ or LL moralitas f. L (as MORAL)]
moralize v. (also -ise) 1 intr. (often foll. by on) indulge in moral
reflection or talk. 2 tr. interpret morally; point the moral
of. 3 tr. make moral or more moral. ЬЬmoralization n.
moralizer n. moralizingly adv. [F moraliser or med.L
moralizare f. L (as MORAL)]
morass n. 1 an entanglement; a disordered situation, esp. one impeding
progress. 2 literary a bog or marsh. [Du. moeras (assim. to
moer MOOR(1)) f. MDu. marasch f. OF marais marsh f. med.L
n. (pl. moratoriums or moratoria) 1 (often foll. by on) a
temporary prohibition or suspension (of an activity). 2 a a
legal authorization to debtors to postpone payment. b the
period of this postponement. [mod.L, neut. of LL moratorius
delaying f. L morari morat- to delay f. mora delay]
Moravian n. & adj. --n. 1 a native of Moravia, now part of
Czechoslovakia. 2 a member of a Protestant sect founded in
Saxony by emigrants from Moravia, holding views derived from the
Hussites and accepting the Bible as the only source of faith.
--adj. of, relating to, or characteristic of Moravia or its
moray n. any tropical eel-like fish of the family Muraenidae, esp.
Muraena helena found in Mediterranean waters. [Port. moreia f.
L f. Gk muraina]
morbid adj. 1 a (of the mind, ideas, etc.) unwholesome, sickly. b
given to morbid feelings. 2 colloq. melancholy. 3 Med. of the
nature of or indicative of disease. Ьmorbid anatomy the anatomy
of diseased organs, tissues, etc. ЬЬmorbidity n. morbidly adv.
morbidness n. [L morbidus f. morbus disease]
morbific adj. causing disease. [F morbifique or mod.L morbificus f. L
morbilli n.pl. 1 measles. 2 the spots characteristic of measles. [L,
pl. of morbillus pustule f. morbus disease]
mordant adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of sarcasm etc.) caustic, biting. 2
pungent, smarting. 3 corrosive or cleansing. 4 (of a
substance) serving to fix colouring-matter or gold leaf on
another substance. --n. a mordant substance (in senses 3, 4 of
adj.). ЬЬmordancy n. mordantly adv. [ME f. F, part. of mordre
bite f. L mordere]
mordent n. Mus. 1 an ornament consisting of one rapid alternation of a
written note with the note immediately below it. 2 a
pralltriller. [G f. It. mordente part. of mordere bite]
more adj., n., & adv. --adj. 1 existing in a greater or additional
quantity, amount, or degree (more problems than last time; bring
some more water). 2 greater in degree (more's the pity; the
more fool you). --n. a greater quantity, number, or amount
(more than three people; more to it than meets the eye). --adv.
1 in a greater degree (do it more carefully). 2 to a greater
extent (people like to walk more these days). 3 forming the
comparative of adjectives and adverbs, esp. those of more than
one syllable (more absurd; more easily). 4 again (once more;
never more). 5 moreover. Ьmore and more in an increasing
degree. more like it see LIKE(1). more of to a greater extent
(more of a poet than a musician). more or less 1 in a greater
or less degree. 2 approximately; as an estimate. more so of
the same kind to a greater degree. [OE mara f. Gmc]
moreen n. a strong ribbed woollen or cotton material for curtains etc.
[perh. fanciful f. MOIRE]
moreish adj. (also morish) colloq. pleasant to eat, causing a desire
morel(1) n. an edible fungus, Morchella esculenta, with ridged mushroom
caps. [F morille f. Du. morilje]
morel(2) n. nightshade. [ME f. OF morele fem. of morel dark brown ult.
f. L Maurus MOOR]
morello n. (pl. -os) a sour kind of dark cherry. [It. morello
blackish f. med.L morellus f. L (as MOREL(1))]
moreover adj. (introducing or accompanying a new statement) further,
morepork var. of MOPOKE.
mores n.pl. customs or conventions regarded as essential to or
characteristic of a community. [L, pl. of mos custom]
Moresco var. of MORISCO.
Moresque adj. (of art or architecture) Moorish in style or design. [F
f. It. moresco f. Moro MOOR]
adj. 1 (of a marriage) between a person of high rank and
another of lower rank, the spouse and children having no claim
to the possessions or title of the person of higher rank. 2 (of
a wife) married in this way. ЬЬmorganatically adv. [F
morganatique or G morganatisch f. med.L matrimonium ad
morganaticam 'marriage with a morning gift', the husband's gift
to the wife after consummation being his only obligation in such
morgue n. 1 a mortuary. 2 (in a newspaper office) a room or file of
miscellaneous information, esp. for future obituaries. [F,
orig. the name of a Paris mortuary]
moribund adj. 1 at the point of death. 2 lacking vitality.
ЬЬmoribundity n. [L moribundus f. mori die]
Morisco n. & adj. (also Moresco) --n. (pl. -os or -oes) 1 a Moor,
esp. in Spain. 2 a morris dance. --adj. Moorish. [Sp. f.
morish var. of MOREISH.
Mormon n. a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,
a millenary religion founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith on the
basis of revelations in the Book of Mormon. ЬЬMormonism n.
morn n. poet. morning. [OE morgen f. Gmc]
mornay n. a cheese-flavoured white sauce. [20th c.: orig. uncert.]
morning n. & int. --n. 1 the early part of the day, esp. from sunrise
to noon (this morning; during the morning; morning coffee). 2
this time spent in a particular way (had a busy morning). 3
sunrise, daybreak. 4 a time compared with the morning, esp. the
early part of one's life etc. --int. = good morning (see GOOD
adj. 14). Ьin the morning 1 during or in the course of the
morning. 2 colloq. tomorrow. morning after colloq. a
hangover. morning-after pill a contraceptive pill effective
when taken some hours after intercourse. morning coat a coat
with tails, and with the front cut away below the waist.
morning dress a man's morning coat and striped trousers.
morning glory any of various twining plants of the genus
Ipomoea, with trumpet-shaped flowers. morning-room a
sitting-room for the morning. morning sickness nausea felt in
the morning in pregnancy. morning star a planet or bright star,
usu. Venus, seen in the east before sunrise. morning watch
Naut. the 4-8 a.m. watch. [ME mor(we)ning f. morwen MORN +
-ING(1) after evening]
Moro n. (pl. -os) a Muslim living in the Philippines. [Sp., =
Moroccan n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or national of Morocco in N. Africa.
2 a person of Moroccan descent. --adj. of or relating to
morocco n. (pl. -os) 1 a fine flexible leather made (orig. in Morocco)
from goatskins tanned with sumac, used esp. in bookbinding and
shoemaking. 2 an imitation of this in grained calf etc.
moron n. 1 colloq. a very stupid or foolish person. 2 an adult with
a mental age of about 8-12. ЬЬmoronic adj. moronically adv.
moronism n. [Gk moron, neut. of moros foolish]
morose adj. sullen and ill-tempered. ЬЬmorosely adv. moroseness n.
[L morosus peevish etc. f. mos moris manner]
morph n. = ALLOMORPH. [back-form.]
morpheme n. Linguistics 1 a morphological element considered in respect
of its functional relations in a linguistic system. 2 a
meaningful morphological unit of a language that cannot be
further divided (e.g. in, come, -ing, forming incoming).
ЬЬmorphemic adj. morphemically adv. [F morphЉme f. Gk morphe
form, after PHONEME]
n.pl. (usu. treated as sing.) Linguistics the study of word
morphia n. (in general use) = MORPHINE.
morphine n. an analgesic and narcotic drug obtained from opium and used
medicinally to relieve pain. ЬЬmorphinism n. [G Morphin &
mod.L morphia f. Morpheus god of sleep]
n. Biol. the development of form in organisms.
ЬЬmorphogenetic adj. morphogenic adj. [mod.L f. Gk morphe form
n. the study of the forms of things, esp.: 1 Biol. the study of
the forms of organisms. 2 Philol. a the study of the forms of
words. b the system of forms in a language. ЬЬmorphological
adj. morphologically adv. morphologist n. [Gk morphe form +
n. a type of plain easy chair with an adjustable back.
[William Morris, Engl. poet and craftsman d. 1896]
n. a traditional English dance by groups of people in fancy
costume, usu. as characters in legend, with ribbons and bells.
ЬЬmorris dancer n. morris dancing n. [morys, var. of MOORISH]
morrow n. (usu. prec. by the) literary 1 the following day. 2 the
time following an event. [ME morwe, moru (as MORN)]
Morse n. & v. --n. (in full Morse code) an alphabet or code in which
letters are represented by combinations of long and short light
or sound signals. --v.tr. & intr. signal by Morse code. [S. F.
B. Morse, Amer. electrician d. 1872, who devised it]
morsel n. a mouthful; a small piece (esp. of food). [ME f. OF, dimin.
of mors a bite f. mordere mors- to bite]
mort n. Hunting a note sounded when the quarry is killed. [ME f. OF
f. L mors mortis death]
n. (pl. mortadelle) a large spiced pork sausage. [It. dimin.,
irreg. f. L murtatum seasoned with myrtle berries]
mortal adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a living being, esp. a human) subject
to death. 2 (often foll. by to) causing death; fatal. 3 (of a
battle) fought to the death. 4 associated with death (mortal
agony). 5 (of an enemy) implacable. 6 (of pain, fear, an
affront, etc.) intense, very serious. 7 colloq. a very great
(in a mortal hurry). b long and tedious (for two mortal hours).
8 colloq. conceivable, imaginable (every mortal thing; of no
mortal use). --n. 1 a mortal being, esp. a human. 2 joc. a
person described in some specified way (a thirsty mortal).
Ьmortal sin Theol. a grave sin that is regarded as depriving
the soul of divine grace. ЬЬmortally adv. [ME f. OF mortal,
mortel or L mortalis f. mors mortis death]
mortality n. (pl. -ies) 1 the state of being subject to death. 2 loss
of life on a large scale. 3 a the number of deaths in a given
period etc. b (in full mortality rate) a death rate. [ME f. OF
mortalit‚ f. L mortalitas -tatis (as MORTAL)]
mortar n. & v. --n. 1 a mixture of lime with cement, sand, and water,
used in building to bond bricks or stones. 2 a short large-bore
cannon for firing shells at high angles. 3 a contrivance for
firing a lifeline or firework. 4 a vessel made of hard
material, in which ingredients are pounded with a pestle.
--v.tr. 1 plaster or join with mortar. 2 attack or bombard
with mortar shells. ЬЬmortarless adj. (in sense 1). mortary
adj. (in sense 1). [ME f. AF morter, OF mortier f. L mortarium:
partly from LG]
n. 1 an academic cap with a stiff flat square top. 2 a flat
board with a handle on the under-surface, for holding mortar in
mortgage n. & v. --n. 1 a a conveyance of property by a debtor to a
creditor as security for a debt (esp. one incurred by the
purchase of the property), on the condition that it shall be
returned on payment of the debt within a certain period. b a
deed effecting this. 2 a a debt secured by a mortgage. b a
loan resulting in such a debt. --v.tr. 1 convey (a property)
by mortgage. 2 (often foll. by to) pledge (oneself, one's
powers, etc.). Ьmortgage rate the rate of interest charged by a
mortgagee. ЬЬmortgageable adj. [ME f. OF, = dead pledge f.
mort f. L mortuus dead + gage GAGE(1)]
mortgagee n. the creditor in a mortgage, usu. a bank or building society.
mortgager n. (also mortgagor) the debtor in a mortgage.
mortice var. of MORTISE.
mortician n. US an undertaker; a manager of funerals. [L mors mortis
death + -ICIAN]
mortify v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. a cause (a person) to feel shamed or
humiliated. b wound (a person's feelings). 2 tr. bring (the
body, the flesh, the passions, etc.) into subjection by
self-denial or discipline. 3 intr. (of flesh) be affected by
gangrene or necrosis. ЬЬmortification n. mortifying adj.
mortifyingly adv. [ME f. OF mortifier f. eccl.L mortificare
kill, subdue f. mors mortis death]
mortise n. & v. (also mortice) --n. a hole in a framework designed to
receive the end of another part, esp. a tenon. --v.tr. 1 join
securely, esp. by mortise and tenon. 2 cut a mortise in.
Ьmortise lock a lock recessed into a mortise in the frame of a
door or window etc. [ME f. OF mortoise f. Arab. murtazz fixed
mortmain n. Law 1 the status of lands or tenements held inalienably by
an ecclesiastical or other corporation. 2 the land or tenements
themselves. [ME f. AF, OF mortemain f. med.L mortua manus dead
hand, prob. in allusion to impersonal ownership]
mortuary n. & adj. --n. (pl. -ies) a room or building in which dead
bodies may be kept until burial or cremation. --adj. of or
concerning death or burial. [ME f. AF mortuarie f. med.L
mortuarium f. L mortuarius f. mortuus dead]
morula n. (pl. morulae) a fully segmented ovum from which a blastula
is formed. [mod.L, dimin. of L morum mulberry]
morwong n. any of various fish of the family Cheilodactylidae, native
to Australasia, used as food. [Aboriginal]
Mosaic adj. of or associated with Moses (in the Hebrew Bible).
ЬMosaic Law the laws attributed to Moses and listed in the
Pentateuch. [F mosa‹que or mod.L Mosaicus f. Moses f. Heb.
mosaic n. & v. --n. 1 a a picture or pattern produced by an
arrangement of small variously coloured pieces of glass or stone
etc. b work of this kind as an art form. 2 a diversified
thing. 3 an arrangement of photosensitive elements in a
television camera. 4 Biol. a chimera. 5 (in full mosaic
disease) a virus disease causing leaf-mottling in plants, esp.
tobacco, maize, and sugar cane. 6 (attrib.) a of or like a
mosaic. b diversified. --v.tr. (mosaicked, mosaicking) 1
adorn with mosaics. 2 combine into or as into a mosaic.
Ьmosaic gold 1 tin disulphide. 2 an alloy of copper and zinc
used in cheap jewellery etc. ЬЬmosaicist n. [ME f. F mosa‹que
f. It. mosaico f. med.L mosaicus, musaicus f. Gk mous(e)ion
mosaic work f. mousa MUSE(1)]
n. any large extinct marine reptile of the genus Mosasaurus,
with a long slender body and flipper-like limbs. [mod.L f.
Mosa river Meuse (near which it was first discovered) + Gk
moschatel n. a small plant, Adoxa moschatellina, with pale-green flowers
and a musky smell. [F moscatelle f. It. moscatella f. moscato
moselle n. a light medium-dry white wine produced in the valley of the
river Moselle in Germany.
mosey v.intr. (-eys, -eyed) (often foll. by along) sl. walk in a
leisurely or aimless manner. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
moshav n. (pl. moshavim) a cooperative association of Israeli
smallholders. [Heb. mosab, lit. 'dwelling']
Moslem var. of MUSLIM.
mosque n. a Muslim place of worship. [F mosqu‚e f. It. moschea f.
mosquito n. (pl. -oes) any of various slender biting insects, esp. of
the genus Culex, Anopheles, or Aedes, the female of which
punctures the skin of humans and other animals with a long
proboscis to suck their blood and transmits diseases such as
filariasis and malaria. Ьmosquito-boat US a motor torpedo-boat.
mosquito-net a net to keep off mosquitoes. [Sp. & Port., dimin.
of mosca f. L musca fly]
moss n. & v. --n. 1 any small cryptogamous plant of the class
Musci, growing in dense clusters on the surface of the ground,
in bogs, on trees, stones, etc. 2 Sc. & N.Engl. a bog, esp. a
peatbog. --v.tr. cover with moss. Ьmoss agate agate with
mosslike dendritic markings. moss-grown overgrown with moss.
moss-hag Sc. broken ground from which peat has been taken.
moss-stitch alternate plain and purl in knitting. ЬЬmosslike
adj. [OE mos bog, moss f. Gmc]
mosso adv. Mus. with animation or speed. [It., past part. of
n. a freebooter of the Scottish Border in the 17th c.
mossy adj. (mossier, mossiest) 1 covered in or resembling moss. 2 US
sl. antiquated, old-fashioned. ЬЬmossiness n.
most adj., n., & adv. --adj. 1 existing in the greatest quantity or
degree (you have made most mistakes; see who can make the most
noise). 2 the majority of; nearly all of (most people think
so). --n. 1 the greatest quantity or number (this is the most
I can do). 2 (the most) sl. the best of all. 3 the majority
(most of them are missing). --adv. 1 in the highest degree
(this is most interesting; what most annoys me). 2 forming the
superlative of adjectives and adverbs, esp. those of more than
one syllable (most certain; most easily). 3 US colloq. almost.
Ьat most no more or better than (this is at most a makeshift).
at the most 1 as the greatest amount. 2 not more than. for the
most part 1 as regards the greater part. 2 usually. make the
most of 1 employ to the best advantage. 2 represent at its best
or worst. Most Honourable a title given to marquises and to
members of the Privy Council and the Order of the Bath. Most
Reverend a title given to archbishops and to Roman Catholic
bishops. [OE mast f. Gmc]
-most suffix forming superlative adjectives and adverbs from
prepositions and other words indicating relative position
(foremost; uttermost). [OE -mest f. Gmc]
mostly adv. 1 as regards the greater part. 2 usually.
MOT abbr. 1 (in the UK) Ministry of Transport. 2 (in full MOT
test) a compulsory annual test of motor vehicles of more than a
mot n. (pl. mots pronunc. same) a witty saying. Ь mot juste (pl.
mots justes pronunc. same) the most appropriate expression. [F,
= word, ult. f. L muttum uttered sound f. muttire murmur]
mote n. a speck of dust. [OE mot, corresp. to Du. mot dust,
sawdust, of unkn. orig.]
motel n. a roadside hotel providing accommodation for motorists and
parking for their vehicles. [portmanteau word f. MOTOR +
motet n. Mus. a short sacred choral composition. [ME f. OF, dimin.
of mot: see MOT]
moth n. 1 any usu. nocturnal insect of the order Lepidoptera
excluding butterflies, having a stout body and without clubbed
antennae. 2 any small lepidopterous insect of the family
Tineidae breeding in cloth etc., on which its larva feeds.
Ьmoth-eaten 1 damaged or destroyed by moths. 2 antiquated,
time-worn. [OE moththe]
mothball n. & v. --n. a ball of naphthalene etc. placed in stored
clothes to keep away moths. --v.tr. 1 place in mothballs. 2
leave unused. Ьin mothballs stored unused for a considerable
mother n. & v. --n. 1 a a woman in relation to a child or children to
whom she has given birth. b (in full adoptive mother) a woman
who has continuous care of a child, esp. by adoption. 2 any
female animal in relation to its offspring. 3 a quality or
condition etc. that gives rise to another (necessity is the
mother of invention). 4 (in full Mother Superior) the head of a
female religious community. 5 archaic (esp. as a form of
address) an elderly woman. 6 (attrib.) a designating an
institution etc. regarded as having maternal authority (Mother
Church; mother earth). b designating the main ship, spacecraft,
etc., in a convoy or mission (the mother craft). --v.tr. 1
give birth to; be the mother of. 2 protect as a mother. 3 give
rise to; be the source of. 4 acknowledge or profess oneself the
mother of. ЬMother Carey's chicken = storm petrel 1. mother
country a country in relation to its colonies. mother-figure an
older woman who is regarded as a source of nurture, support,
etc. Mother Goose rhyme US a nursery rhyme. mother-in-law (pl.
mothers-in-law) the mother of one's husband or wife.
mother-in-law's tongue a plant, Sansevieria trifasciata, with
long erect pointed leaves. mother-lode Mining the main vein of
a system. mother naked stark naked. mother-of-pearl a smooth
iridescent substance forming the inner layer of the shell of
some molluscs. Mother's Day 1 Brit. = MOTHERING SUNDAY. 2 US
an equivalent day on the second Sunday in May. mother's ruin
colloq. gin. mother's son colloq. a man (every mother's son
of you). mother tongue 1 one's native language. 2 a language
from which others have evolved. mother wit native wit; common
sense. ЬЬmotherhood n. motherless adj. motherlessness n.
motherlike adj. & adv. [OE modor f. Gmc]
n. skill in or knowledge of looking after children as a mother.
n. Brit. the fourth Sunday in Lent, traditionally a day for
honouring mothers with gifts.
n. one's native country.
motherly adj. 1 like or characteristic of a mother in affection, care,
etc. 2 of or relating to a mother. ЬЬmotherliness n. [OE
modorlic (as MOTHER)]
mothproof adj. & v. --adj. (of clothes) treated so as to repel moths.
--v.tr. treat (clothes) in this way.
mothy adj. (mothier, mothiest) infested with moths.
motif n. 1 a distinctive feature or dominant idea in artistic or
literary composition. 2 Mus. = FIGURE n. 10. 3 an ornament of
lace etc. sewn separately on a garment. 4 an ornament on a
vehicle identifying the maker, model, etc. [F (as MOTIVE)]
motile adj. Zool. & Bot. capable of motion. ЬЬmotility n. [L motus
motion (as MOVE)]
motion n. & v. --n. 1 the act or process of moving or of changing
position. 2 a particular manner of moving the body in walking
etc. 3 a change of posture. 4 a gesture. 5 a formal proposal
put to a committee, legislature, etc. 6 Law an application for
a rule or order of court. 7 a an evacuation of the bowels. b
(in sing. or pl.) faeces. 8 a piece of moving mechanism. --v.
(often foll. by to + infin.) 1 tr. direct (a person) by a sign
or gesture. 2 intr. (often foll. by to a person) make a gesture
directing (motioned to me to leave). Ьgo through the motions 1
make a pretence; do something perfunctorily or superficially. 2
simulate an action by gestures. in motion moving; not at rest.
motion picture (often (with hyphen) attrib.) a film (see FILM n.
3) with the illusion of movement. put (or set) in motion set
going or working. ЬЬmotional adj. motionless adj. [ME f. OF
f. L motio -onis (as MOVE)]
motivate v.tr. 1 supply a motive to; be the motive of. 2 cause (a
person) to act in a particular way. 3 stimulate the interest of
(a person in an activity). ЬЬmotivation n. motivational adj.
motive n., adj., & v. --n. 1 a factor or circumstance that induces a
person to act in a particular way. 2 = MOTIF. --adj. 1
tending to initiate movement. 2 concerned with movement.
--v.tr. = MOTIVATE. Ьmotive power a moving or impelling power,
esp. a source of energy used to drive machinery. ЬЬmotiveless
adj. motivelessly adv. motivelessness n. motivity n. [ME f.
OF motif (adj. & n.) f. LL motivus (adj.) (as MOVE)]
motley adj. & n. --adj. (motlier, motliest) 1 diversified in colour.
2 of varied character (a motley crew). --n. 1 an incongruous
mixture. 2 hist. the particoloured costume of a jester. Ьwear
motley play the fool. [ME mottelay, perh. ult. rel. to MOTE]
n. cross-country racing on motor cycles. [MOTOR + CROSS-]
n. Mus. a usu. fast-moving instrumental composition consisting
mainly of notes of equal value. [It., = perpetual motion]
motor n. & v. --n. 1 a thing that imparts motion. 2 a machine (esp.
one using electricity or internal combustion) supplying motive
power for a vehicle etc. or for some other device with moving
parts. 3 Brit. = motor car. 4 (attrib.) a giving, imparting,
or producing motion. b driven by a motor (motor-mower). c of
or for motor vehicles. d Anat. relating to muscular movement or
the nerves activating it. --v.intr. & tr. Brit. go or convey
in a motor vehicle. Ьmotor area the part of the frontal lobe of
the brain associated with the initiation of muscular action.
motor bicycle a motor cycle or moped. motor bike colloq. =
motor cycle. motor boat a motor-driven boat. motor car Brit.
see CAR 1. motor cycle a two-wheeled motor-driven road vehicle
without pedal propulsion. motor cyclist a rider of a motor
cycle. motor mouth US sl. a person who talks incessantly and
trivially. motor nerve a nerve carrying impulses from the brain
or spinal cord to a muscle. motor scooter see SCOOTER. motor
vehicle a road vehicle powered by an internal-combustion engine.
ЬЬmotorial adj. (in sense 4a of n.). motory adj. (in sense 4a
of n.). [L, = mover (as MOVE)]
motorable adj. (of a road) that can be used by motor vehicles.
motorcade n. a procession of motor vehicles. [MOTOR, after cavalcade]
motorist n. the driver of a motor car.
motorize v.tr. (also -ise) 1 equip (troops etc.) with motor transport.
2 provide with a motor for propulsion etc. ЬЬmotorization n.
motorman n. (pl. -men) the driver of an underground train, tram, etc.
motorway n. Brit. a main road with separate carriageways and limited
access, specially constructed and controlled for fast motor
Motown n. music with rhythm and blues elements, associated with
Detroit. [shortening of Motor Town, a name for Detroit]
motte n. a mound forming the site of a castle, camp, etc. [ME f. OF
mote (as MOAT)]
mottle v. & n. --v.tr. (esp. as mottled adj.) mark with spots or
smears of colour. --n. 1 an irregular arrangement of spots or
patches of colour. 2 any of these spots or patches. [prob.
back-form. f. MOTLEY]
motto n. (pl. -oes) 1 a maxim adopted as a rule of conduct. 2 a
phrase or sentence accompanying a coat of arms or crest. 3 a
sentence inscribed on some object and expressing an appropriate
sentiment. 4 verses etc. in a paper cracker. 5 a quotation
prefixed to a book or chapter. 6 Mus. a recurrent phrase having
some symbolical significance. [It. (as MOT)]
moue n. = POUT(1) n. [F]
moufflon n. (also mouflon) a wild mountain sheep, Ovis musimon, of S.
Europe. [F mouflon f. It. muflone f. Rmc]
mouill‚ adj. Phonet. (of a consonant) palatalized. [F, = wetted]
moujik var. of MUZHIK.
mould(1) n. & v. (US mold) --n. 1 a hollow container into which molten
metal etc. is poured or soft material is pressed to harden into
a required shape. 2 a a metal or earthenware vessel used to
give shape to puddings etc. b a pudding etc. made in this way.
3 a form or shape, esp. of an animal body. 4 Archit. a moulding
or group of mouldings. 5 a frame or template for producing
mouldings. 6 character or disposition (in heroic mould).
--v.tr. 1 make (an object) in a required shape or from certain
ingredients (was moulded out of clay). 2 give a shape to. 3
influence the formation or development of (consultation helps to
mould policies). 4 (esp. of clothing) fit closely to (the
gloves moulded his hands). ЬЬmouldable adj. moulder n. [ME
mold(e), app. f. OF modle f. L modulus: see MODULUS]
mould(2) n. (US mold) a woolly or furry growth of minute fungi occurring
esp. in moist warm conditions. [ME prob. f. obs. mould adj.;
past part. of moul grow mouldy f. ON mygla]
mould(3) n. (US mold) 1 loose earth. 2 the upper soil of cultivated
land, esp. when rich in organic matter. Ьmould-board the board
in a plough that turns over the furrow-slice. [OE molde f.
Gmc., rel. to MEAL(2)]
moulder v.intr. (US molder) 1 decay to dust. 2 (foll. by away) rot or
crumble. 3 deteriorate. [perh. f. MOULD(3), but cf. Norw.
dial. muldra crumble]
moulding n. (US molding) 1 a an ornamentally shaped outline as an
architectural feature, esp. in a cornice. b a strip of material
in wood or stone etc. for use as moulding. 2 similar material
in wood or plastic etc. used for other decorative purposes, e.g.
mouldy adj. (US moldy) (-ier, -iest) 1 covered with mould. 2 stale;
out of date. 3 colloq. (as a general term of disparagement)
dull, miserable, boring. ЬЬmouldiness n.
moulin n. a nearly vertical shaft in a glacier, formed by surface
water percolating through a crack in the ice. [F, lit. = mill]
moult v. & n. (US molt) --v. 1 intr. shed feathers, hair, a shell,
etc., in the process of renewing plumage, a coat, etc. 2 tr.
(of an animal) shed (feathers, hair, etc.). --n. the act or an
instance of moulting (is in moult once a year). ЬЬmoulter n.
[ME moute f. OE mutian (unrecorded) f. L mutare change: -l-
after fault etc.]
mound(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a raised mass of earth, stones, or other
compacted material. 2 a heap or pile. 3 a hillock. --v.tr. 1
heap up in a mound or mounds. 2 enclose with mounds. [16th c.
(orig. = hedge or fence): orig. unkn.]
mound(2) n. Heraldry a ball of gold etc. representing the earth, and
usu. surmounting a crown. [ME f. OF monde f. L mundus world]
mount(1) v. & n. --v. 1 tr. ascend or climb (a hill, stairs, etc.). 2
tr. a get up on (an animal, esp. a horse) to ride it. b set (a
person) on horseback. c provide (a person) with a horse. d (as
mounted adj.) serving on horseback (mounted police). 3 tr. go
up or climb on to (a raised surface). 4 intr. a move upwards.
b (often foll. by up) increase, accumulate. c (of a feeling)
become stronger or more intense (excitement was mounting). d
(of the blood) rise into the cheeks. 5 tr. (esp. of a male
animal) get on to (a female) to copulate. 6 tr. (often foll. by
on) place (an object) on an elevated support. 7 tr. a set in
or attach to a backing, setting, or other support. b attach (a
picture etc.) to a mount or frame. c fix (an object for
viewing) on a microscope slide. 8 tr. a arrange (a play,
exhibition, etc.) or present for public view or display. b take
action to initiate (a programme, campaign, etc.). 9 tr. prepare
(specimens) for preservation. 10 tr. a bring into readiness
for operation. b raise (guns) into position on a fixed
mounting. 11 intr. rise to a higher level of rank, power, etc.
--n. 1 a backing, setting, or other support on which a picture
etc. is set for display. 2 the margin surrounding a picture or
photograph. 3 a a horse available for riding. b an opportunity
to ride a horse, esp. as a jockey. 4 = stamp-hinge (see HINGE).
Ьmount guard (often foll. by over) perform the duty of guarding;
take up sentry duty. ЬЬmountable adj. mounter n. [ME f. OF
munter, monter ult. f. L (as MOUNT(2))]
mount(2) n. archaic (except before a name): mountain, hill (Mount
Everest; Mount of Olives). [ME f. OE munt & OF mont f. L mons
mountain n. 1 a large natural elevation of the earth's surface rising
abruptly from the surrounding level; a large or high and steep
hill. 2 a large heap or pile; a huge quantity (a mountain of
work). 3 a large surplus stock of a commodity (butter
mountain). Ьmake a mountain out of a molehill see MOLEHILL.
mountain ash 1 a tree, Sorbus aucuparia, with delicate pinnate
leaves and scarlet berries: also called ROWAN. 2 any of several
Australian eucalypts. mountain chain a connected series of
mountains. mountain goat a white goatlike animal, Oreamnos
americanus, of the Rocky Mountains etc. mountain laurel a N.
American shrub, Kalmia latifolia. mountain lion a puma.
mountain panther = OUNCE(2). mountain range a line of mountains
connected by high ground. mountain sickness a sickness caused
by the rarefaction of the air at great heights. Mountain Time
US the standard time of parts of Canada and the US in or near
the Rocky Mountains. move mountains 1 achieve spectacular
results. 2 make every possible effort. ЬЬmountainy adj. [ME
f. OF montaigne ult. f. L (as MOUNT(2))]
n. & v. --n. 1 a person skilled in mountain-climbing. 2 a
person living in an area of high mountains. --v.intr. climb
mountains as a sport. ЬЬmountaineering n.
adj. 1 (of a region) having many mountains. 2 huge.
n. the slope of a mountain below the summit.
n. 1 a swindler; a charlatan. 2 a clown. 3 hist. an itinerant
quack appealing to an audience from a platform. ЬЬmountebankery
n. [It. montambanco = monta in banco climb on bench: see
Mountie n. colloq. a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
mounting n. 1 = MOUNT(1) n. 1. 2 in senses of MOUNT(1) v.
Ьmounting-block a block of stone placed to help a rider mount a
mourn v. 1 tr. & (foll. by for) intr. feel or show deep sorrow or
regret for (a dead person, a lost thing, a past event, etc.). 2
intr. show conventional signs of grief for a period after a
person's death. [OE murnan]
mourner n. 1 a person who mourns, esp. at a funeral. 2 a person hired
to attend a funeral.
mournful adj. 1 doleful, sad, sorrowing. 2 expressing or suggestive of
mourning. ЬЬmournfully adv. mournfulness n.
mourning n. 1 the expression of deep sorrow, esp. for a dead person, by
the wearing of solemn dress. 2 the clothes worn in mourning.
Ьin mourning assuming the signs of mourning, esp. in dress.
mourning-band a band of black crape etc. round a person's sleeve
or hat as a token of mourning. mourning dove an American dove
with a plaintive note, Zenaida macroura. mourning-paper
notepaper with a black edge. mourning-ring a ring worn as a
memorial of a deceased person.
mousaka var. of MOUSSAKA.
mouse n. & v. --n. (pl. mice) 1 a any of various small rodents of
the family Muridae, esp. of the genus Mus. b any of several
similar rodents such as a small shrew or vole. 2 a timid or
feeble person. 3 Computing a small hand-held device which
controls the cursor on a VDU screen. 4 sl. a black eye.
--v.intr. also 1 (esp. of a cat, owl, etc.) hunt for or catch
mice. 2 (foll. by about) search industriously; prowl about as
if searching. Ьmouse-coloured 1 dark-grey with a yellow tinge.
2 nondescript light brown. mouse deer a chevrotain. mouse hare
a pika. ЬЬmouselike adj. & adv. mouser n. [OE mus, pl. mys
mousetrap n. 1 a sprung trap with bait for catching and usu. killing
mice. 2 (often attrib.) cheese of poor quality.
moussaka n. (also mousaka) a Greek dish of minced meat, aubergine, etc.
with a cheese sauce. [mod. Gk or Turk.]
mousse n. 1 a a dessert of whipped cream, eggs, etc., usu. flavoured
with fruit or chocolate. b a meat or fish pur‚e made with
whipped cream etc. 2 a preparation applied to the hair enabling
it to be styled more easily. [F, = moss, froth]
n. 1 a muslin-like fabric of silk etc. 2 a sauce of seasoned
or sweet eggs and cream. [F: see MUSLIN]
moustache n. (US mustache) 1 hair left to grow on a man's upper lip. 2 a
similar growth round the mouth of some animals. Ьmoustache cup
a cup with a partial cover to protect the moustache when
drinking. ЬЬmoustached adj. [F f. It. mostaccio f. Gk mustax
adj. Archaeol. of or relating to the flint workings of the
middle palaeolithic epoch, dated to c.70,000-30,000 BC, and
attributed to Neanderthal peoples. [F moust‚rien f. Le
Moustier in SW France, where remains were found]
mousy adj. (mousier, mousiest) 1 of or like a mouse. 2 (of a person)
shy or timid; ineffectual. 3 = mouse-coloured. ЬЬmousily adv.
mouth n. & v. --n. (pl. mouths) 1 a an external opening in the
head, through which most animals admit food and emit
communicative sounds. b (in humans and some animals) the cavity
behind it containing the means of biting and chewing and the
vocal organs. 2 a the opening of a container such as a bag or
sack. b the opening of a cave, volcano, etc. c the open end of
a woodwind or brass instrument. d the muzzle of a gun. 3 the
place where a river enters the sea. 4 colloq. a talkativeness.
b impudent talk; cheek. 5 an individual regarded as needing
sustenance (an extra mouth to feed). 6 a horse's readiness to
feel and obey the pressure of the bit. --v. 1 tr. & intr.
utter or speak solemnly or with affectations; rant, declaim
(mouthing platitudes). 2 tr. utter very distinctly. 3 intr. a
move the lips silently. b grimace. 4 tr. take (food) in the
mouth. 5 tr. touch with the mouth. 6 tr. train the mouth of (a
horse). Ьgive mouth (of a dog) bark, bay. keep one's mouth
shut colloq. not reveal a secret. mouth-organ = HARMONICA.
mouth-to-mouth (of resuscitation) in which a person breathes
into a subject's lungs through the mouth. mouth-watering 1 (of
food etc.) having a delicious smell or appearance. 2 tempting,
alluring. put words into a person's mouth represent a person as
having said something in a particular way. take the words out
of a person's mouth say what another was about to say.
ЬЬmouthed adj. (also in comb.). mouther n. mouthless adj. [OE
muth f. Gmc]
mouthful n. (pl. -fuls) 1 a quantity, esp. of food, that fills the
mouth. 2 a small quantity. 3 a long or complicated word or
phrase. 4 US colloq. something important said.
n. 1 a the part of a musical instrument placed between or
against the lips. b the part of a telephone for speaking into.
c the part of a tobacco-pipe placed between the lips. 2 a a
person who speaks for another or others. b colloq. a lawyer. 3
a part attached as an outlet.
mouthwash n. 1 a liquid antiseptic etc. for rinsing the mouth or
gargling. 2 colloq. nonsense.
movable adj. & n. (also moveable) --adj. 1 that can be moved. 2 Law
(of property) of the nature of a chattel, as distinct from land
or buildings. 3 (of a feast or festival) variable in date from
year to year. --n. 1 an article of furniture that may be
removed from a house, as distinct from a fixture. 2 (in pl.)
personal property. Ьmovable-doh Mus. applied to a system of
sight-singing in which doh is the keynote of any major scale
(cf. fixed-doh). ЬЬmovability n. movableness n. movably adv.
[ME f. OF (as MOVE)]
move v. & n. --v. 1 intr. & tr. change one's position or posture,
or cause to do this. 2 tr. & intr. put or keep in motion;
rouse, stir. 3 a intr. make a move in a board-game. b tr.
change the position of (a piece) in a board-game. 4 intr.
(often foll. by about, away, etc.) go or pass from place to
place. 5 intr. take action, esp. promptly (moved to reduce
unemployment). 6 intr. make progress (the project is moving
fast). 7 intr. a change one's place of residence. b (of a
business etc.) change to new premises (also tr.: move house;
move offices). 8 intr. (foll. by in) live or be socially active
in (a specified place or group etc.) (moves in the best
circles). 9 tr. affect (a person) with (usu. tender or
sympathetic) emotion. 10 tr. a (foll. by in) stimulate
(laughter, anger, etc., in a person). b (foll. by to) provoke
(a person to laughter etc.). 11 tr. (foll. by to, or to +
infin.) prompt or incline (a person to a feeling or action). 12
a tr. cause (the bowels) to be evacuated. b intr. (of the
bowels) be evacuated. 13 tr. (often foll. by that + clause)
propose in a meeting, deliberative assembly, etc. 14 intr.
(foll. by for) make a formal request or application. 15 intr.
(of merchandise) be sold. --n. 1 the act or an instance of
moving. 2 a change of house, business premises, etc. 3 a step
taken to secure some action or effect; an initiative. 4 a the
changing of the position of a piece in a board-game. b a
player's turn to do this. Ьget a move on colloq. 1 hurry up.
2 make a start. make a move take action. move along (or on)
change to a new position, esp. to avoid crowding, getting in the
way, etc. move heaven and earth see HEAVEN. move in 1 take
possession of a new house. 2 get into a position of influence,
interference, etc. 3 get into a position of readiness or
proximity (for an offensive action etc.). move mountains see
MOUNTAIN. move out 1 leave one's home; change one's place of
residence. 2 leave a position, job, etc. move over (or up)
adjust one's position to make room for another. on the move 1
progressing. 2 moving about. [ME f. AF mover, OF moveir f. L
moveable var. of MOVABLE.
movement n. 1 the act or an instance of moving or being moved. 2 a the
moving parts of a mechanism (esp. a clock or watch). b a
particular group of these. 3 a a body of persons with a common
object (the peace movement). b a campaign undertaken by such a
body. 4 (usu. in pl.) a person's activities and whereabouts,
esp. at a particular time. 5 Mus. a principal division of a
longer musical work, self-sufficient in terms of key, tempo,
structure, etc. 6 the progressive development of a poem, story,
etc. 7 motion of the bowels. 8 a an activity in a market for
some commodity. b a rise or fall in price. 9 a mental impulse.
10 a development of position by a military force or unit. [ME
f. OF f. med.L movimentum (as MOVE)]
mover n. 1 a person or thing that moves. 2 a person who moves a
proposition. 3 US a remover of furniture. 4 the author of a
movie n. esp. US colloq. 1 a motion-picture film. 2 (in full
movie-house) a cinema.
moving adj. 1 that moves or causes to move. 2 affecting with emotion.
Ьmoving pavement a structure like a conveyor belt for
pedestrians. moving picture a continuous picture of events
obtained by projecting a sequence of photographs taken at very
short intervals. moving staircase an escalator. ЬЬmovingly
adv. (in sense 2).
mow(1) v.tr. (past part. mowed or mown) 1 cut down (grass, hay, etc.)
with a scythe or machine. 2 cut down the produce of (a field)
or the grass etc. of (a lawn) by mowing. Ьmow down kill or
destroy randomly or in great numbers. ЬЬmowable adj. mower n.
[OE mawan f. Gmc, rel. to MEAD(2)]
mow(2) n. US or dial. 1 a stack of hay, corn, etc. 2 a place in a
barn where hay etc. is heaped. [OE muga]
moxa n. a downy substance from the dried leaves of Artemisia moxa
etc., burnt on the skin in oriental medicine as a
counterirritant. [Jap. mogusa f. moe kusa burning herb]
n. an Italian curd cheese orig. of buffalo milk. [It.]
Mr n. (pl. Messrs) 1 the title of a man without a higher title
(Mr Jones). 2 a title prefixed to a designation of office etc.
(Mr President; Mr Speaker). ЬMr Right joc. a woman's destined
husband. [abbr. of MISTER]
MRA abbr. Moral Re-Armament.
MRBM abbr. medium-range ballistic missile.
MRC abbr. (in the UK) Medical Research Council.
MRCA abbr. multi-role combat aircraft.
mRNA abbr. Biol. messenger RNA.
Mrs n. (pl. same or Mesdames) the title of a married woman without
a higher title (Mrs Jones). [abbr. of MISTRESS: cf. MISSIS]
mu n. 1 the twelfth Greek letter (M, ж). 2 (ж, as a symbol) =
MICRO- 2. Ьmu-meson = MUON. [Gk]
much adj., n., & adv. --adj. 1 existing or occurring in a great
quantity (much trouble; not much rain; too much noise). 2
(prec. by as, how, that, etc.) with relative rather than
distinctive sense (I don't know how much money you want). --n.
1 a great quantity (much of that is true). 2 (prec. by as, how,
that, etc.) with relative rather than distinctive sense (we do
not need that much). 3 (usu. in neg.) a noteworthy or
outstanding example (not much to look at; not much of a party).
--adv. 1 a in a great degree (much to my surprise; is much the
same). b (qualifying a verb or past participle) greatly (they
much regret the mistake; I was much annoyed). ° Much implies a
strong verbal element in the participle, whereas very implies a
strong adjectival element: compare the second example above with
I was very annoyed. c qualifying a comparative or superlative
adjective (much better; much the most likely). 2 for a large
part of one's time (is much away from home). Ьas much the
extent or quantity just specified; the idea just mentioned (I
thought as much; as much as that?). a bit much colloq.
somewhat excessive or immoderate. make much of see MAKE. much
as even though (cannot come, much as I would like to). much
less see LESS. much obliged see OBLIGE. not much colloq. 1
iron. very much. 2 certainly not. not much in it see IN. too
much colloq. an intolerable situation etc. (that really is too
much). too much for 1 more than a match for. 2 beyond what is
endurable by. ЬЬmuchly adv. joc. [ME f. muchel MICKLE: for
loss of el cf. BAD, WENCH]
muchness n. greatness in quantity or degree. Ьmuch of a muchness very
nearly the same or alike.
mucilage n. 1 a viscous substance obtained from plant seeds etc. by
maceration. 2 US a solution of gum. ЬЬmucilaginous adj. [ME
f. F f. LL mucilago -ginis musty juice (MUCUS)]
muck n. & v. --n. 1 farmyard manure. 2 colloq. dirt or filth;
anything disgusting. 3 colloq. an untidy state; a mess.
--v.tr. 1 (usu. foll. by up) Brit. colloq. bungle (a job). 2
(foll. by out) remove muck from. 3 make dirty. 4 manure with
muck. Ьmake a muck of colloq. bungle. muck about (or around)
Brit. colloq. 1 potter or fool about. 2 (foll. by with) fool
or interfere with. muck in Brit. (often foll. by with) share
tasks etc. equally. muck sweat Brit. colloq. a profuse sweat.
[ME muk prob. f. Scand.: cf. ON myki dung, rel. to MEEK]
mucker n. sl. 1 a friend or companion. 2 US a rough or coarse
person. 3 Brit. a heavy fall. ЬЬmuckerish adj. (in senses 1
and 2). [prob. f. muck in: see MUCK]
muckle var. of MICKLE.
muckrake v.intr. search out and reveal scandal, esp. among famous
people. ЬЬmuckraker n. muckraking n.
mucky adj. (muckier, muckiest) 1 covered with muck. 2 dirty.
muco- comb. form Biochem. mucus, mucous.
n. Biochem. any of a group of polysaccharides whose molecules
contain sugar residues and are often found as components of
mucosa n. (pl. mucosae) a mucous membrane. [mod.L, fem. of mucosus:
mucous adj. of or covered with mucus. Ьmucous membrane a
mucus-secreting epithelial tissue lining many body cavities and
tubular organs. ЬЬmucosity n. [L mucosus (as MUCUS)]
mucro n. (pl. mucrones) Bot. & Zool. a sharp-pointed part or organ.
ЬЬmucronate adj. [L mucro -onis sharp point]
mucus n. 1 a slimy substance secreted by a mucous membrane. 2 a
gummy substance found in all plants. 3 a slimy substance exuded
by some animals, esp. fishes. [L]
mud n. 1 wet soft earthy matter. 2 hard ground from the drying of
an area of this. 3 what is worthless or polluting. Ьas clear
as mud colloq. not at all clear. fling (or sling or throw) mud
speak disparagingly or slanderously. here's mud in your eye!
colloq. a drinking-toast. mud-bath 1 a bath in the mud of
mineral springs, esp. to relieve rheumatism etc. 2 a muddy
scene or occasion. mud-brick a brick made from baked mud.
mud-flat a stretch of muddy land left uncovered at low tide.
mud pack a cosmetic paste applied thickly to the face. mud pie
mud made into a pie shape by a child. mud puppy US a large
nocturnal salamander, Necturus maculosus, of eastern USA. mud
skipper any of various gobies of the family Periophthalmidae,
able to leave the water and leap on the mud. mud-slinger
colloq. one given to making abusive or disparaging remarks.
mud-slinging colloq. abuse, disparagement. mud volcano a
volcano discharging mud. one's name is mud one is unpopular or
in disgrace. [ME mode, mudde, prob. f. MLG mudde, MHG mot bog]
muddle v. & n. --v. 1 tr. (often foll. by up, together) bring into
disorder. 2 tr. bewilder, confuse. 3 tr. mismanage (an
affair). 4 tr. US crush and mix (the ingredients for a drink).
5 intr. (often foll. by with) busy oneself in a confused and
ineffective way. --n. 1 disorder. 2 a muddled condition.
Ьmake a muddle of 1 bring into disorder. 2 bungle. muddle
along (or on) progress in a haphazard way. muddle-headed
stupid, confused. muddle-headedness stupidity; a confused
state. muddle through succeed by perseverance rather than skill
or efficiency. muddle up confuse (two or more things).
ЬЬmuddler n. muddlingly adv. [perh. f. MDu. moddelen,
frequent. of modden dabble in mud (as MUD)]
muddy adj. & v. --adj. (muddier, muddiest) 1 like mud. 2 covered in
or full of mud. 3 (of liquid) turbid. 4 mentally confused. 5
obscure. 6 (of light) dull. 7 (of colour) impure. --v.tr.
(-ies, -ied) make muddy. ЬЬmuddily adv. muddiness n.
mudfish n. any fish that burrows in mud, esp. the bowfin.
mudflap n. a flap hanging behind the wheel of a vehicle, to catch mud
and stones etc. thrown up from the road.
mudguard n. a curved strip or cover over a wheel of a bicycle or motor
cycle to reduce the amount of mud etc. thrown up from the road.
mudlark n. 1 hist. a destitute child searching in river mud for objects
of value. 2 hist. a street urchin.
mudstone n. a dark clay rock.
muesli n. a breakfast food of crushed cereals, dried fruits, nuts,
etc., eaten with milk. [Swiss G]
muezzin n. a Muslim crier who proclaims the hours of prayer usu. from a
minaret. [Arab. mu' addin part. of ' addana proclaim]
muff(1) n. a fur or other covering, usu. in the form of a tube with an
opening at each end for the hands to be inserted for warmth.
[Du. mof, MDu. moffel, muffel f. med.L muff(u)la, of unkn.
muff(2) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 bungle; deal clumsily with. 2 fail to catch
or receive (a ball etc.). 3 blunder in (a theatrical part
etc.). --n. 1 a person who is awkward or stupid, orig. in some
athletic sport. 2 a failure, esp. to catch a ball at cricket
etc. ЬЬmuffish adj. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
muffin n. 1 Brit. a light flat round spongy cake, eaten toasted and
buttered. 2 US a similar round cake made from batter or dough.
Ьmuffin-man Brit. (formerly) a seller of muffins in the street.
[18th c.: orig. unkn.]
muffle(1) v. & n. --v.tr. 1 (often foll. by up) wrap or cover for
warmth. 2 cover or wrap up (a source of sound) to reduce its
loudness. 3 (usu. as muffled adj.) stifle (an utterance, e.g. a
curse). 4 prevent from speaking. --n. 1 a receptacle in a
furnace where substances may be heated without contact with
combustion products. 2 a similar chamber in a kiln for baking
painted pottery. [ME: (n.) f. OF moufle thick glove; (v.) perh.
f. OF enmoufler f. moufle]
muffle(2) n. the thick part of the upper lip and nose of ruminants and
rodents. [F mufle, of unkn. orig.]
muffler n. 1 a wrap or scarf worn for warmth. 2 any of various devices
used to deaden sound in musical instruments. 3 US the silencer
of a motor vehicle.
mufti(1) n. a Muslim legal expert empowered to give rulings on religious
matters. [Arab. mufti, part. of ' afta decide a point of law]
mufti(2) n. plain clothes worn by a person who also wears (esp.
military) uniform (in mufti). [19th c.: perh. f. MUFTI(1)]
mug(1) n. & v. --n. 1 a a drinking-vessel, usu. cylindrical and with
a handle and used without a saucer. b its contents. 2 sl. the
face or mouth of a person. 3 Brit. sl. a a simpleton. b a
gullible person. 4 US sl. a hoodlum or thug. --v. (mugged,
mugging) 1 tr. rob (a person) with violence esp. in a public
place. 2 tr. thrash. 3 tr. strangle. 4 intr. sl. make faces,
esp. before an audience, a camera, etc. Ьa mug's game Brit.
colloq. a foolish or unprofitable activity. mug shot sl. a
photograph of a face, esp. for official purposes. ЬЬmugger n.
(esp. in sense 1 of v.). mugful n. (pl. -fuls). mugging n.
(in sense 1 of v.). [prob. f. Scand.: sense 2 of n. prob. f.
the representation of faces on mugs, and sense 3 prob. from
mug(2) v.tr. (mugged, mugging) Brit. (usu. foll. by up) sl. learn (a
subject) by concentrated study. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
mugger(1) see MUG(1).
mugger(2) n. a broad-nosed Indian crocodile, Crocodylus palustris,
venerated by many Hindus. [Hindi magar]
muggins n. (pl. same or mugginses) 1 colloq. a a simpleton. b a
person who is easily outwitted ( often with allusion to oneself:
so muggins had to pay). 2 a card-game like snap. [perh. the
surname Muggins, with allusion to MUG(1)]
muggy adj. (muggier, muggiest) (of the weather, a day, etc.)
oppressively damp and warm; humid. ЬЬmugginess n. [dial. mug
mist, drizzle f. ON mugga]
Mughal n. 1 a Mongolian. 2 (attrib.) denoting the Muslim dynasty in
India in the 16th-19th c. (cf. MOGUL 2b). [Pers. mugul
mugwort n. any of various plants of the genus Artemisia, esp. A.
vulgaris, with silver-grey aromatic foliage. [OE mucgwyrt (as
mugwump n. US 1 a great man; a boss. 2 a person who holds aloof, esp.
from party politics. [Algonquin mugquomp great chief]
n. & adj. (also Mohammedan) = MUSLIM. °A term not used or
favoured by Muslims, and often regarded as offens.
ЬЬMuhammadanism n. [Muhammad, Arabian prophet d. 632]
mujahidin n.pl. (also mujahedin, -deen) guerrilla fighters in Islamic
countries, esp. supporting Muslim fundamentalism. [Pers. &
Arab. mujahidin pl. of mujahid one who fights a JIHAD]
mulatto n. & adj. --n. (pl. -os or -oes) a person of mixed White and
Black parentage. --adj. of the colour of mulattos; tawny. [Sp.
mulato young mule, mulatto, irreg. f. mulo MULE(1)]
mulberry n. (pl. -ies) 1 any deciduous tree of the genus Morus, grown
originally for feeding silkworms, and now for its fruit and
ornamental qualities. 2 its dark-red or white berry. 3 a
dark-red or purple colour. [ME mol-, mool-, mulberry, dissim.
f. murberie f. OE morberie, f. L morum: see BERRY]
mulch n. & v. --n. a mixture of wet straw, leaves, etc., spread
around or over a plant to enrich or insulate the soil. --v.tr.
treat with mulch. [prob. use as noun of mulsh soft: cf. dial.
melsh mild f. OE melsc]
mulct v. & n. --v.tr. 1 extract money from by fine or taxation. 2 a
(often foll. by of) deprive by fraudulent means; swindle. b
obtain by swindling. --n. a fine. [earlier mult(e) f. L multa,
mulcta: (v.) through F mulcter & L mulctare]
mule(1) n. 1 the offspring (usu. sterile) of a male donkey and a female
horse, or (in general use) of a female donkey and a male horse
(cf. HINNY(1)), used as a beast of burden. 2 a stupid or
obstinate person. 3 (often attrib.) a hybrid and usu. sterile
plant or animal (mule canary). 4 (in full spinning mule) a kind
of spinning-machine producing yarn on spindles. [ME f. OF
mul(e) f. L mulus mula]
mule(2) n. a light shoe or slipper without a back. [F]
mule(3) var. of MEWL.
muleteer n. a mule-driver. [F muletier f. mulet dimin. of OF mul
mulga n. Austral. 1 a small spreading tree, Acacia aneura. 2 the
wood of this tree. 3 scrub or bush. 4 colloq. the outback.
n. literary 1 womanhood. 2 the normal characteristics of a
woman. 3 softness, effeminacy. [LL muliebritas f. L mulier
mulish adj. 1 like a mule. 2 stubborn. ЬЬmulishly adv. mulishness
mull(1) v.tr. & intr. (often foll. by over) ponder or consider. [perh.
f. mull grind to powder, ME mul dust f. MDu.]
mull(2) v.tr. warm (wine or beer) with added sugar, spices, etc. [17th
c.: orig. unkn.]
mull(3) n. Sc. a promontory. [ME: cf. Gael. maol, Icel. mЈli]
mull(4) n. humus formed under non-acid conditions. [G f. Da. muld]
mull(5) n. a thin soft plain muslin. [abbr. of mulmull f. Hindi
mullah n. a Muslim learned in Islamic theology and sacred law.
[Pers., Turk., Urdu mulla f. Arab. mawla]
mullein n. any herbaceous plant of the genus Verbascum, with woolly
leaves and yellow flowers. [ME f. OF moleine f. Gaulish]
muller n. a stone or other heavy weight used for grinding material on
a slab. [ME, perh. f. AF moldre grind]
mullet n. any fish of the family Mullidae (red mullet) or Mugilidae
(grey mullet), usu. with a thick body and a large blunt-nosed
head, commonly used as food. [ME f. OF mulet dimin. of L mullus
red mullet f. Gk mollos]
n. a highly seasoned soup orig. from India. [Tamil
mullion n. (also munnion) a vertical bar dividing the lights in a
window (cf. TRANSOM). ЬЬmullioned adj. [prob. an altered form
mullock n. 1 Austral. or dial. refuse, rubbish. 2 Austral. a rock
containing no gold. b refuse from which gold has been
extracted. 3 Austral. ridicule. [ME dimin. of mul dust,
rubbish, f. MDu.]
mulloway n. Austral. a large marine fish, Sciaena antarctica, used as
food. [19th c.: orig. unkn.]
adj. having many angles. [med.L multangularis (as MULTI-,
multi- comb. form many; more than one. [L f. multus much, many]
n. (often attrib.) the simultaneous connection to a computer of
a number of terminals.
adj. of or involving several axes.
adj. Biol. having many cells.
adj. employing or possessing many communication or television
adj. (also multicoloured) of many colours.
adj. of or relating to or constituting several cultural or
ethnic groups within a society. ЬЬmulticulturally adv.
adj. of or involving more than three dimensions.
ЬЬmultidimensionality n. multidimensionally adv.
adj. of, involving, or operating in several directions.
adj. having several facets.
adj. 1 (foll. by pl. noun) many and various. 2 having great
variety. ЬЬmultifariously adv. multifariousness n. [L
multifid adj. Bot. & Zool. divided into many parts. [L multifidus (as
MULTI-, fid- stem of findere cleave)]
multifoil n. Archit. an ornament consisting of more than five foils.
multiform n. (usu. attrib.) 1 having many forms. 2 of many kinds.
adj. having or fulfilling several functions.
n. (usu. attrib.) an engine oil etc. meeting the requirements
of several standard grades.
adj. 1 a (of an agreement, treaty, conference, etc.) in which
three or more parties participate. b performed by more than one
party (multilateral disarmament). 2 having many sides.
adj. in or using several languages. ЬЬmultilingually adv.
attrib.adj. costing or involving several million (pounds,
dollars, etc.) (multimillion dollar fraud).
n. a person with a fortune of several millions.
adj. & n. --adj. 1 (of a business organization) operating in
several countries. 2 relating to or including several
nationalities or ethnic groups. --n. a multinational company.
adj. & n. Math. = POLYNOMIAL. [MULTI-, after binomial]
adj. 1 bringing forth many young at a birth. 2 having borne
more than one child. [MULTI- + -PAROUS]
adj. divided into many parts.
n. Electr. = POLYPHASE.
multiple adj. & n. --adj. 1 having several or many parts, elements, or
individual components. 2 (foll. by pl. noun) many and various.
3 Bot. (of fruit) collective. --n. 1 a number that may be
divided by another a certain number of times without a remainder
(56 is a multiple of 7). 2 a multiple shop or store. Ьleast
(or lowest) common multiple the least quantity that is a
multiple of two or more given quantities. multiple-choice (of a
question in an examination) accompanied by several possible
answers from which the correct one has to be chosen. multiple
personality Psychol. the apparent existence of two or more
distinct personalities in one individual. multiple sclerosis
see SCLEROSIS. multiple shop (or store) Brit. a shop or store
with branches in several places. multiple standard see
STANDARD. multiple star several stars so close as to seem one,
esp. when forming a connected system. ЬЬmultiply adv. [F f. LL
multiplus f. L (as MULTIPLEX)]
multiplex adj. & v. --adj. 1 manifold; of many elements. 2 involving
simultaneous transmission of several messages along a single
channel of communication. --v.tr. incorporate into a multiplex
signal or system. ЬЬmultiplexer n. (also multiplexor). [L (as
MULTI-, - plex -plicis -fold)]
adj. that can be multiplied.
adj. = MULTIPLIABLE. [OF multiplicable or med.L
multiplicabilis f. L (as MULTIPLY)]
n. a quantity to be multiplied by a multiplier. [med.L
multiplicandus gerundive of L multiplicare (as MULTIPLY)]
n. 1 the arithmetical process of multiplying. 2 the act or an
instance of multiplying. Ьmultiplication sign the sign (x) to
indicate that one quantity is to be multiplied by another, as in
2 x 3 = 6. multiplication table a list of multiples of a
particular number, usu. from 1 to 12. ЬЬmultiplicative adj.
[ME f. OF multiplication or L multiplicatio (as MULTIPLY)]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 manifold variety. 2 (foll. by of) a great
number. [LL multiplicitas (as MULTIPLEX)]
n. 1 a quantity by which a given number is multiplied. 2 Econ.
a factor by which an increment of income exceeds the resulting
increment of saving or investment. 3 Electr. an instrument for
increasing by repetition the intensity of a current, force, etc.
multiply v. (-ies, -ied) 1 tr. (also absol.) obtain from (a number)
another that is a specified number of times its value (multiply
6 by 4 and you get 24). 2 intr. increase in number esp. by
procreation. 3 tr. produce a large number of (instances etc.).
4 tr. a breed (animals). b propagate (plants). [ME f. OF
multiplier f. L multiplicare (as MULTIPLEX)]
adj. having many poles (see POLE(2)).
n. Computing processing by a number of processors sharing a
common memory and common peripherals.
n. Computing the execution of two or more independent programs
n. (attrib.) having several purposes.
adj. relating to or made up of many human races.
n. (attrib.) having several roles or functions.
n. (attrib.) (of a rocket etc.) having several stages of
n. (attrib.) (of a building) having several (esp. similarly
multitude n. 1 (often foll. by of) a great number. 2 a large gathering
of people; a crowd. 3 (the multitude) the common people. 4 the
state of being numerous. [ME f. OF f. L multitudo -dinis f.
adj. 1 very numerous. 2 consisting of many individuals or
elements. 3 (of an ocean etc.) vast. ЬЬmultitudinously adv.
multitudinousness n. [L (as MULTITUDE)]
n. (attrib.) (of a computer system) having a number of
simultaneous users (cf. MULTI-ACCESS).
adj. Chem. 1 having a valency of more than two. 2 having a
variable valency. ЬЬmultivalency n.
n. (attrib.) (of a shell etc.) having several valves.
n. (pl. -ies) a large university with many different
departments. [MULTI- + UNIVERSITY]
adj. having many meanings.
multi-way n. (attrib.) having several paths of communication etc.
mum(1) n. Brit. colloq. mother. [abbr. of MUMMY(1)]
mum(2) adj. colloq. silent (keep mum). Ьmum's the word say nothing.
[ME: imit. of closed lips]
mum(3) v.intr. (mummed, mumming) act in a traditional masked mime.
[cf. MUM(2) and MLG mummen]
mumble v. & n. --v. 1 intr. & tr. speak or utter indistinctly. 2 tr.
bite or chew with or as with toothless gums. --n. an indistinct
utterance. ЬЬmumbler n. mumblingly adv. [ME momele, as
MUM(2): cf. LG mummelen]
n. (pl. -jumbos) 1 meaningless or ignorant ritual. 2 language
or action intended to mystify or confuse. 3 an object of
senseless veneration. [Mumbo Jumbo, a supposed African idol]
mummer n. 1 an actor in a traditional masked mime. 2 archaic or
derog. an actor in the theatre. [ME f. OF momeur f. momer
mummery n. (pl. -ies) 1 ridiculous (esp. religious) ceremonial. 2 a
performance by mummers. [OF momerie (as MUMMER)]
mummify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 embalm and preserve (a body) in the form
of a mummy (see MUMMY(2)). 2 (usu. as mummified adj.) shrivel
or dry up (tissues etc.). ЬЬmummification n.
mummy(1) n. (pl. -ies) Brit. colloq. mother. [imit. of a child's
pronunc.: cf. MAMMA(1)]
mummy(2) n. (pl. -ies) 1 a body of a human being or animal embalmed for
burial, esp. in ancient Egypt. 2 a dried-up body. 3 a pulpy
mass (beat it to a mummy). 4 a rich brown pigment. [F momie f.
med.L mumia f. Arab. mumiya f. Pers. mum wax]
mumps n.pl. 1 (treated as sing.) a contagious and infectious viral
disease with swelling of the parotid salivary glands in the
face. 2 a fit of sulks. ЬЬmumpish adj. (in sense 2). [archaic
mump be sullen]
munch v.tr. eat steadily with a marked action of the jaws. [ME,
imit.: cf. CRUNCH]
mundane adj. 1 dull, routine. 2 of this world; worldly. ЬЬmundanely
adv. mundaneness n. mundanity n. (pl. -ies). [ME f. OF
mondain f. LL mundanus f. L mundus world]
mung n. (in full mung bean) a leguminous plant, Phaseolus aureus,
native to India and used as food. [Hindi mung]
mungo n. (pl. -os) the short fibres recovered from heavily felted
material. [19th c.: orig. uncert.]
municipal adj. of or concerning a municipality or its self-government.
ЬЬmunicipalize v.tr. (also -ise). municipalization n.
municipally adv. [L municipalis f. municipium free city f.
municeps -cipis citizen with privileges f. munia civic offices
+ capere take]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a town or district having local government. 2
the governing body of this area. [F municipalit‚ f. municipal
adj. (of a giver or a gift) splendidly generous, bountiful.
ЬЬmunificence n. munificently adv. [L munificent-, var. stem
of munificus f. munus gift]
muniment n. (usu. in pl.) 1 a document kept as evidence of rights or
privileges etc. 2 an archive. [ME f. OF f. L munimentum
defence, in med.L title-deed f. munire munit- fortify]
munition n. & v. --n. (usu. in pl.) military weapons, ammunition,
equipment, and stores. --v.tr. supply with munitions. [F f. L
munitio -onis fortification (as MUNIMENT)]
n. a person who makes or supplies munitions.
munnion var. of MULLION.
munshi var. of MOONSHEE.
munt n. S.Afr. sl. offens. a Black African. [Bantu umuntu
muntjac n. (also muntjak) any small deer of the genus Muntiacus native
to SE Asia, the male having tusks and small antlers. [Sundanese
n. an alloy (60% copper, 40% zinc) used for sheathing ships
etc. [G. F. Muntz, Engl. manufacturer d. 1857]
muon n. Physics an unstable elementary particle like an electron,
but with a much greater mass. [ж (MU), as the symbol for it]
murage n. hist. a tax levied for building or repairing the walls of a
town. [ME f. OF, in med.L muragium f. OF mur f. L murus wall]
mural n. & adj. --n. a painting executed directly on a wall. --adj.
1 of or like a wall. 2 on a wall. Ьmural crown Rom. Antiq. a
crown or garland given to the soldier who was first to scale the
wall of a besieged town. ЬЬmuralist n. [F f. L muralis f.
murder n. & v. --n. 1 the unlawful premeditated killing of a human
being by another (cf. MANSLAUGHTER). 2 colloq. an unpleasant,
troublesome, or dangerous state of affairs (it was murder here
on Saturday). --v.tr. 1 kill (a human being) unlawfully, esp.
wickedly or inhumanly. 2 Law kill (a human being) with a
premeditated motive. 3 colloq. utterly defeat or spoil by a bad
performance, mispronunciation etc. (murdered the soliloquy in
the second act). Ьcry blue murder sl. make an extravagant
outcry. get away with murder colloq. do whatever one wishes
and escape punishment. murder will out murder cannot remain
undetected. ЬЬmurderer n. murderess n. [OE morthor & OF
murdre f. Gmc]
murderous adj. (of a person, weapon, action, etc.) capable of, intending,
or involving murder or great harm. ЬЬmurderously adv.
mure v.tr. archaic 1 immure. 2 (foll. by up) wall up or shut up in
an enclosed space. [ME f. OF murer f. mur: see MURAGE]
murex n. (pl. murices or murexes) any gastropod mollusc of the genus
Murex, yielding a purple dye. [L]
murine adj. of or like a mouse or mice. [L murinus f. mus muris
murk n. & adj. (also mirk) --n. 1 darkness, poor visibility. 2 air
obscured by fog etc. --adj. archaic (of night, day, place,
etc.) = MURKY. [prob. f. Scand.: cf. ON myrkr]
murmur n. & v. --n. 1 a subdued continuous sound, as made by waves, a
brook, etc. 2 a softly spoken or nearly inarticulate utterance.
3 Med. a recurring sound heard in the auscultation of the heart
and usu. indicating abnormality. 4 a subdued expression of
discontent. --v. 1 intr. make a subdued continuous sound. 2
tr. utter (words) in a low voice. 3 intr. (usu. foll. by at,
against) complain in low tones, grumble. ЬЬmurmurer n.
murmuringly adv. murmurous adj. [ME f. OF murmurer f. L
murmurare: cf. Gk mormuro (of water) roar, Skr. marmaras noisy]
murphy n. (pl. -ies) sl. a potato. [Ir. surname]
n. joc. any of various maxims about the perverseness of
murrain n. 1 an infectious disease of cattle, carried by parasites. 2
archaic a plague, esp. the potato blight during the Irish famine
in the mid-19th c. [ME f. AF moryn, OF morine f. morir f. L
murrey n. & adj. archaic --n. the colour of a mulberry; a deep red or
purple. --adj. of this colour. [ME f. OF mor‚ f. med.L moratus
f. morum mulberry]
murther archaic var. of MURDER.
Mus.B. abbr. (also Mus. Bac.) Bachelor of Music. [L Musicae
muscadel var. of MUSCATEL.
Muscadet n. 1 a white wine from the Loire region of France. 2 a variety
of grape from which the wine is made. [Muscadet variety of
muscadine n. a variety of grape with a musk flavour, used chiefly in
wine-making. [perh. Engl. form f. Prov. MUSCAT]
muscarine n. a poisonous alkaloid from the fungus Amanita muscaria. [L
muscarius f. musca fly]
muscat n. 1 a sweet fortified white wine made from muscadines. 2 a
muscadine. [F f. Prov. muscat muscade (adj.) f. musc MUSK]
muscatel n. (also muscadel) 1 = MUSCAT. 2 a raisin from a muscadine
grape. [ME f. OF f. Prov. dimin. of muscat: see MUSCAT]
muscle n. & v. --n. 1 a fibrous tissue with the ability to contract,
producing movement in or maintaining the position of an animal
body. 2 the part of an animal body that is composed of muscles.
3 physical power or strength. --v.intr. (usu. foll. by in)
colloq. force oneself on others; intrude by forceful means.
Ьmuscle-bound with muscles stiff and inelastic through excessive
exercise or training. muscle-man a man with highly developed
muscles, esp. one employed as an intimidator. not move a muscle
be completely motionless. ЬЬmuscled adj. (usu. in comb.).
muscleless adj. muscly adj. [F f. L musculus dimin. of mus
mouse, from the fancied mouselike form of some muscles]
muscology n. the study of mosses. ЬЬmuscologist n. [mod.L muscologia f.
L muscus moss]
muscovado n. (pl. -os) an unrefined sugar made from the juice of sugar
cane by evaporation and draining off the molasses. [Sp.
mascabado (sugar) of the lowest quality]
Muscovite n. & adj. --n. 1 a native or citizen of Moscow. 2 archaic a
Russian. --adj. 1 of or relating to Moscow. 2 archaic of or
relating to Russia. [mod.L Muscovita f. Muscovia = MUSCOVY]
muscovite n. a silver-grey form of mica with a sheetlike crystalline
structure that is used in the manufacture of electrical
equipment etc. [obs. MUSCOVY glass (in the same sense) +
Muscovy n. archaic Russia. ЬMuscovy duck a tropical American duck,
Cairina moschata, having a small crest and red markings on its
head. [obs. F Muscovie f. mod.L Moscovia f. Russ. Moskva
muscular adj. 1 of or affecting the muscles. 2 having well-developed
muscles. Ьmuscular Christianity a Christian life of cheerful
physical activity as described in the writings of Charles
Kingsley. muscular dystrophy see DYSTROPHY. muscular
rheumatism = MYALGIA. muscular stomach see STOMACH.
ЬЬmuscularity n. muscularly adv. [earlier musculous (as
n. the muscular system of a body or organ. [F f. L (as
Mus.D. abbr. (also Mus. Doc.) Doctor of Music. [L Musicae Doctor]
muse(1) n. 1 (as the Muses) (in Greek and Roman mythology) nine
goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who inspire
poetry, music, drama, etc. 2 (usu. prec. by the) a a poet's
inspiring goddess. b a poet's genius. [ME f. OF muse or L musa
f. Gk mousa]
muse(2) v. & n. literary --v. 1 intr. a (usu. foll. by on, upon)
ponder, reflect. b (usu. foll. by on) gaze meditatively (on a
scene etc.). 2 tr. say meditatively. --n. archaic a fit of
abstraction. [ME f. OF muser to waste time f. Rmc perh. f.
med.L musum muzzle]
musette n. 1 a a kind of small bagpipe with bellows, common in the
French court in the 17th-18th c. b a tune imitating the sound
of this. 2 a small oboe-like double-reed instrument in 19th-c.
France. 3 a popular dance in the courts of Louis XIV and XV. 4
US a small knapsack. [ME f. OF, dimin. of muse bagpipe]
museum n. a building used for storing and exhibiting objects of
historical, scientific, or cultural interest. Ьmuseum piece 1 a
specimen of art etc. fit for a museum. 2 derog. an
old-fashioned or quaint person or object. ЬЬmuseology n. [L f.
Gk mouseion seat of the Muses: see MUSE(1)]
mush(1) n. 1 soft pulp. 2 feeble sentimentality. 3 US maize porridge.
ЬЬmushy adj. (mushier, mushiest). mushily adv. mushiness n.
[app. var. of MASH]
mush(2) v. & n. US --v.intr. 1 (in imper.) used as a command to dogs
pulling a sledge to urge them forward. 2 go on a journey across
snow with a dog-sledge. --n. a journey across snow with a
dog-sledge. [prob. corrupt. f. F marchons imper. of marcher
mushroom n. & v. --n. 1 the usu. edible spore-producing body of various
fungi, esp. Agaricus campestris, with a stem and domed cap,
proverbial for its rapid growth. 2 the pinkish-brown colour of
this. 3 any item resembling a mushroom in shape (darning
mushroom). 4 (usu. attrib.) something that appears or develops
suddenly or is ephemeral; an upstart. --v.intr. 1 appear or
develop rapidly. 2 expand and flatten like a mushroom cap. 3
gather mushrooms. Ьmushroom cloud a cloud suggesting the shape
of a mushroom, esp. from a nuclear explosion. mushroom growth 1
a sudden development or expansion. 2 anything undergoing this.
ЬЬmushroomy adj. [ME f. OF mousseron f. LL mussirio -onis]
music n. 1 the art of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or
both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of
emotion. 2 the sounds so produced. 3 musical compositions. 4
the written or printed score of a musical composition. 5
certain pleasant sounds, e.g. birdsong, the sound of a stream,
etc. Ьmusic box US = musical box. music centre equipment
combining radio, record-player, tape recorder, etc. music drama
Wagnerian-type opera without formal arias etc. and governed by
dramatic considerations. music-hall Brit. 1 variety
entertainment, popular c.1850-1914, consisting of singing,
dancing, and novelty acts. 2 a theatre where this took place.
music of the spheres see SPHERE. music-paper paper printed with
staves for writing music. music stand a rest or frame on which
sheet music or a score is supported. music stool a stool for a
pianist, usu. with adjustable height. music theatre in late
20th-c. music, the combination of elements from music and drama
in new forms distinct from traditional opera, esp. as designed
for small groups of performers. music to one's ears something
very pleasant to hear. [ME f. OF musique f. L musica f. Gk
mousike (tekhne art) of the Muses (mousa Muse: see MUSE(1))]
musical adj. & n. --adj. 1 of or relating to music. 2 (of sounds, a
voice, etc.) melodious, harmonious. 3 fond of or skilled in
music (the musical one of the family). 4 set to or accompanied
by music. --n. a musical film or comedy. Ьmusical box Brit. a
mechanical instrument playing a tune by causing a toothed
cylinder to strike a comblike metal plate within a box. musical
bumps a game similar to musical chairs, with players sitting on
the floor and the one left standing eliminated. musical chairs
1 a party game in which the players compete in successive rounds
for a decreasing number of chairs. 2 a series of changes or
political manoeuvring etc. after the manner of the game.
musical comedy a light dramatic entertainment of songs,
dialogue, and dancing, connected by a slender plot. musical
film a film in which music is an important feature. musical
glasses an instrument in which notes are produced by rubbing
graduated glass bowls or tubes. musical saw a bent saw played
with a violin bow. ЬЬmusicality n. musicalize v.tr. (also
-ise). musically adv. musicalness n. [ME f. OF f. med.L
musicalis f. L musica: see MUSIC]
musicale n. US a musical party. [F fem. adj. (as MUSICAL)]
musician n. a person who plays a musical instrument, esp.
professionally, or is otherwise musically gifted. ЬЬmusicianly
adj. musicianship n. [ME f. OF musicien f. musique (as MUSIC,
n. the study of music other than that directed to proficiency
in performance or composition. ЬЬmusicologist n. musicological
adj. [F musicologie or MUSIC + -LOGY]
n. = concrete music. [F]
musk n. 1 a strong-smelling reddish-brown substance produced by a
gland in the male musk deer and used as an ingredient in
perfumes. 2 the plant, Mimulus moschatus, with pale-green ovate
leaves and yellow flowers (orig. with a smell of musk which is
no longer perceptible in modern varieties). Ьmusk deer any
small Asian deer of the genus Moschus, having no antlers and in
the male having long protruding canine teeth. musk duck the
Australian duck Biziura lobata, having a musky smell. musk
melon the common yellow or green melon, Cucumis melo, usu. with
a raised network of markings on the skin. musk ox a large
goat-antelope, Ovibos moschatus, native to N. America, with a
thick shaggy coat and small curved horns. musk-rose a rambling
rose, Rosa moschata, with large white flowers smelling of musk.
musk thistle a nodding thistle, Carduus nutans, whose flowers
have a musky fragrance. musk-tree (or -wood) an Australian
tree, Olearia argophylla, with a musky smell. ЬЬmusky adj.
(muskier, muskiest). muskiness n. [ME f. LL muscus f. Pers.
musk, perh. f. Skr. muska scrotum (from the shape of the musk
muskeg n. a level swamp or bog in Canada. [Cree]
n. = MASKINONGE. [Algonquian]
musket n. hist. an infantryman's (esp. smooth-bored) light gun, often
supported on the shoulder. Ьmusket-shot 1 a shot fired from a
musket. 2 the range of this shot. [F mousquet f. It.
moschetto crossbow bolt f. mosca fly]
musketeer n. hist. a soldier armed with a musket.
musketry n. 1 muskets, or soldiers armed with muskets, referred to
collectively. 2 the knowledge of handling muskets.
muskrat n. 1 a large aquatic rodent, Ondatra zibethica, native to N.
America, having a musky smell. Also called MUSQUASH. 2 the fur
Muslim n. & adj. (also Moslem) --n. a follower of the Islamic
religion. --adj. of or relating to the Muslims or their
religion. [Arab. muslim, part. of aslama: see ISLAM]
muslin n. 1 a fine delicately woven cotton fabric. 2 US a cotton
cloth in plain weave. ЬЬmuslined adj. [F mousseline f. It.
mussolina f. Mussolo Mosul in Iraq, where it was made]
musmon n. Zool. = MOUFFLON. [L musimo f. Gk mousmon]
muso n. (pl. -os) sl. a musician, esp. a professional. [abbr.]
musquash n. = MUSKRAT. [Algonquian]
muss v. & n. US colloq. --v.tr. (often foll. by up) disarrange;
throw into disorder. --n. a state of confusion; untidiness,
mess. ЬЬmussy adj. [app. var. of MESS]
mussel n. 1 any bivalve mollusc of the genus Mytilus, living in sea
water and often used for food. 2 any similar freshwater mollusc
of the genus Margaritifer or Anodonta, forming pearls. [ME f.
OE mus(c)le & MLG mussel, ult. rel. to L musculus (as MUSCLE)]
Mussulman n. & adj. archaic --n. (pl. -mans or -men) a Muslim. --adj.
of or concerning Muslims. [Pers. musulman orig. adj. f.
muslim (as MUSLIM)]
must(1) v. & n. --v.aux. (3rd sing. present must; past had to or in
indirect speech must) (foll. by infin., or absol.) 1 a be
obliged to (you must go to school; must we leave now?; said he
must go; I must away). °The negative (i.e. lack of obligation)
is expressed by not have to or need not; must not denotes
positive forbidding, as in you must not smoke. b in ironic
questions (must you slam the door?). 2 be certain to (we must
win in the end; you must be her sister; he must be mad; they
must have left by now; seemed as if the roof must blow off). 3
ought to (we must see what can be done; it must be said that).
4 expressing insistence (I must ask you to leave). 5 (foll. by
not + infin.) a not be permitted to, be forbidden to (you must
not smoke). b ought not; need not (you mustn't think he's
angry; you must not worry). c expressing insistence that
something should not be done (they must not be told). 6 (as
past or historic present) expressing the perversity of destiny
(what must I do but break my leg). --n. colloq. a thing that
cannot or should not be overlooked or missed (if you go to
London St Paul's is a must). ЬI must say often iron. I cannot
refrain from saying (I must say he made a good attempt; a fine
way to behave, I must say). must needs see NEEDS. [OE moste
past of mot may]
must(2) n. grape-juice before fermentation is complete. [OE f. L
mustum neut. of mustus new]
must(3) n. mustiness, mould. [back-form. f. MUSTY]
must(4) adj. & n. (also musth) --adj. (of a male elephant or camel) in
a state of frenzy. --n. this state. [Urdu f. Pers. mast
mustache US var. of MOUSTACHE.
mustachio n. (pl. -os) (often in pl.) archaic a moustache.
ЬЬmustachioed adj. [Sp. mostacho & It. mostaccio (as
mustang n. a small wild horse native to Mexico and California.
Ьmustang grape a grape from the wild vine Vitis candicans, of
the southern US, used for making wine. [Sp. mestengo f. mesta
company of graziers, & Sp. mostrenco]
mustard n. 1 a any of various plants of the genus Brassica with slender
pods and yellow flowers, esp. B. nigra. b any of various
plants of the genus Sinapis, esp. S. alba, eaten at the
seedling stage, often with cress. 2 the seeds of these which
are crushed, made into a paste, and used as a spicy condiment.
3 the brownish-yellow colour of this condiment. 4 sl. a thing
which adds piquancy or zest. Ьmustard gas a colourless oily
liquid, whose vapour is a powerful irritant and vesicant.
mustard plaster a poultice made with mustard. mustard seed 1
the seed of the mustard plant. 2 a small thing capable of great
development (Matt. 13:31). [ME f. OF mo(u)starde: orig. the
condiment as prepared with MUST(2)]
muster v. & n. --v. 1 tr. collect (orig. soldiers) for inspection, to
check numbers, etc. 2 tr. & intr. collect, gather together. 3
tr. Austral. round up (livestock). --n. 1 the assembly of
persons for inspection. 2 an assembly, a collection. 3
Austral. a rounding up of livestock. 4 Austral. sl. attendance
(at a meeting, etc.) (had a good muster). Ьmuster-book a book
for registering military personnel. muster in US enrol
(recruits). muster out US discharge (soldiers etc.).
muster-roll an official list of officers and men in a regiment
or ship's company. muster up collect or summon (courage,
strength, etc.). pass muster be accepted as adequate.
ЬЬmusterer n. (in sense 3 of n. & v.). [ME f. OF mo(u)stre ult.
f. L monstrare show]
musth var. of MUST(4).
mustn't contr. must not.
musty adj. (mustier, mustiest) 1 mouldy. 2 of a mouldy or stale
smell or taste. 3 stale, antiquated (musty old books).
ЬЬmustily adv. mustiness n. [perh. alt. f. moisty (MOIST) by
assoc. with MUST(2)]
mutable adj. literary 1 liable to change. 2 fickle. ЬЬmutability n.
[L mutabilis f. mutare change]
mutagen n. an agent promoting mutation, e.g. radiation. ЬЬmutagenic
adj. mutagenesis n. [MUTATION + -GEN]
mutant adj. & n. --adj. resulting from mutation. --n. a mutant form.
[L mutant- part. f. mutare change]
mutate v.intr. & tr. undergo or cause to undergo mutation.
[back-form. f. MUTATION]
mutation n. 1 the process or an instance of change or alteration. 2 a
genetic change which, when transmitted to offspring, gives rise
to heritable variations. 3 a mutant. 4 a an umlaut. b (in a
Celtic language) a change of a consonant etc. determined by a
preceding word. ЬЬmutational adj. mutationally adv. [ME f. L
mutatio f. mutare change]
adv. (in comparing cases) making the necessary alterations.
mutch n. dial. a woman's or child's linen cap. [ME f. MDu. mutse
MHG mЃtze f. med.L almucia AMICE]
mute adj., n., & v. --adj. 1 silent, refraining from or temporarily
bereft of speech. 2 not emitting articulate sound. 3 (of a
person or animal) dumb. 4 not expressed in speech (mute
protest). 5 a (of a letter) not pronounced. b (of a consonant)
plosive. 6 (of hounds) not giving tongue. --n. 1 a dumb
person (a deaf mute). 2 Mus. a a clamp for damping the
resonance of the strings of a violin etc. b a pad or cone for
damping the sound of a wind instrument. 3 an unsounded
consonant. 4 an actor whose part is in a dumb show. 5 a dumb
servant in oriental countries. 6 a hired mourner. --v.tr. 1
deaden, muffle, or soften the sound of (a thing, esp. a musical
instrument). 2 a tone down, make less intense. b (as muted
adj.) (of colours etc.) subdued (a muted green). Ьmute button a
device on a telephone etc. to temporarily prevent the caller
from hearing what is being said at the receiver's end. mute
swan the common white swan. ЬЬmutely adv. muteness n. [ME f.
OF muet, dimin. of mu f. L mutus, assim. to L]
mutilate v.tr. 1 a deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or organ. b
destroy the use of (a limb or organ). 2 render (a book etc.)
imperfect by excision or some act of destruction. ЬЬmutilation
n. mutilative adj. mutilator n. [L mutilare f. mutilus
mutineer n. a person who mutinies. [F mutinier f. mutin rebellious f.
muete movement ult. f. L movere move]
mutinous adj. rebellious; tending to mutiny. ЬЬmutinously adv. [obs.
mutine rebellion f. F mutin: see MUTINEER]
mutiny n. & v. --n. (pl. -ies) an open revolt against constituted
authority, esp. by soldiers or sailors against their officers.
--v.intr. (-ies, -ied) (often foll. by against) revolt; engage
in mutiny. [obs. mutine (as MUTINOUS)]
mutism n. muteness; silence; dumbness. [F mutisme f. L (as MUTE)]
muton n. Biol. the smallest element of genetic material capable of
giving rise to a mutant individual.
mutt n. 1 sl. an ignorant, stupid, or blundering person. 2 derog. a
dog. [abbr. of mutton-head]
mutter v. & n. --v. 1 intr. speak low in a barely audible manner. 2
intr. (often foll. by against, at) murmur or grumble about. 3
tr. utter (words etc.) in a low tone. 4 tr. say in secret.
--n. 1 muttered words or sounds. 2 muttering. ЬЬmutterer n.
mutteringly adv. [ME, rel. to MUTE]
mutton n. 1 the flesh of sheep used for food. 2 joc. a sheep.
Ьmutton-bird Austral. 1 any bird of the genus Puffinus, esp.
the short-tailed shearwater, P. tenuirostris. 2 any of various
petrels. mutton chop 1 a piece of mutton, usu. the rib and half
vertebra to which it is attached. 2 (in full mutton chop
whisker) a side whisker shaped like this. mutton dressed as
lamb colloq. a usu. middle-aged or elderly woman dressed or
made up to appear younger. mutton-head colloq. a dull, stupid
person. mutton-headed colloq. dull, stupid. ЬЬmuttony adj.
[ME f. OF moton f. med.L multo -onis prob. f. Gaulish]
mutual adj. 1 (of feelings, actions, etc.) experienced or done by each
of two or more parties with reference to the other or others
(mutual affection). 2 colloq. disp. common to two or more
persons (a mutual friend; a mutual interest). 3 standing in (a
specified) relation to each other (mutual well-wishers; mutual
beneficiaries). Ьmutual fund US a unit trust. mutual
inductance the property of an electric circuit that causes an
electromotive force to be generated in it by change in the
current flowing through a magnetically linked circuit. mutual
induction the production of an electromotive force between
adjacent circuits that are magnetically linked. mutual
insurance insurance in which some or all of the profits are
divided among the policyholders. ЬЬmutuality n. mutually adv.
[ME f. OF mutuel f. L mutuus mutual, borrowed, rel. to mutare
mutualism n. 1 the doctrine that mutual dependence is necessary to social
well-being. 2 mutually beneficial symbiosis. ЬЬmutualist n. &
adj. mutualistic adj. mutualistically adv.
mutuel n. esp. US a totalizator; a pari-mutuel. [abbr. of
mutule n. Archit. a block derived from the ends of wooden beams
projecting under a Doric cornice. [F f. L mutulus]
muu-muu n. a woman's loose brightly-coloured dress. [Hawaiian]
Muzak n. 1 propr. a system of music transmission for playing in
public places. 2 (muzak) recorded light background music.
[alt. f. MUSIC]
muzhik n. (also moujik) hist. a Russian peasant. [Russ. muzhik]
muzzle n. & v. --n. 1 the projecting part of an animal's face,
including the nose and mouth. 2 a guard, usu. made of straps or
wire, fitted over an animal's nose and mouth to stop it biting
or feeding. 3 the open end of a firearm. --v.tr. 1 put a
muzzle on (an animal etc.). 2 impose silence upon. 3 Naut.
take in (a sail). Ьmuzzle-loader a gun that is loaded through
the muzzle. muzzle velocity the velocity with which a
projectile leaves the muzzle of a gun. ЬЬmuzzler n. [ME f. OF
musel ult. f. med.L musum: cf. MUSE(2)]
muzzy adj. (muzzier, muzziest) 1 a mentally hazy; dull, spiritless.
b stupid from drinking alcohol. 2 blurred, indistinct.
ЬЬmuzzily adv. muzziness n. [18th c.: orig. unkn.]
MV abbr. 1 motor vessel. 2 muzzle velocity. 3 megavolt(s).
MVO abbr. (in the UK) Member of the Royal Victorian Order.
my poss.pron. (attrib.) 1 of or belonging to me or myself (my
house; my own business). 2 as a form of address in
affectionate, sympathetic, jocular, or patronizing contexts (my
dear boy). 3 in various expressions of surprise (my God!; oh
my!). 4 Brit. colloq. indicating the speaker's husband, wife,
child, etc. (my Johnny's ill again). Ьmy Lady (or Lord) the
form of address to certain titled persons. [ME mi, reduced f.
my- comb. form var. of MYO-.
myalgia n. a pain in a muscle or group of muscles. ЬЬmyalgic adj.
[mod.L f. Gk mus muscle]
myalism n. a kind of sorcery akin to obeah, practised esp. in the W.
Indies. [myal, prob. of W.Afr. orig.]
myall n. 1 a any tree of the genus Acacia, esp. A. pendula, native
to Australia. b the hard scented wood of this, used for fences
and tobacco-pipes. 2 an Aboriginal living in a traditional way.
n. a condition causing abnormal weakness of certain muscles.
[mod.L f. Gk mus muscle: cf. ASTHENIA]
mycelium n. (pl. mycelia) the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting
of microscopic threadlike hyphae. ЬЬmycelial adj. [mod.L f. Gk
mukes mushroom, after EPITHELIUM]
Mycenaean adj. & n. --adj. Archaeol. of or relating to the late Bronze
Age civilization in Greece (c.1500-1100 BC), depicted in the
Homeric poems and represented by finds at Mycenae and elsewhere.
--n. an inhabitant of Mycenae or the Mycenaean world. [L
-mycin comb. form used to form the names of antibiotic compounds
derived from fungi. [Gk mukes fungus + -IN]
mycology n. 1 the study of fungi. 2 the fungi of a particular region.
ЬЬmycological adj. mycologically adv. mycologist n. [Gk mukes
mushroom + -LOGY]
n. (pl. mycorrhizae) a symbiotic association of a fungus and
the roots of a plant. ЬЬmycorrhizal adj. [mod.L f. Gk mukes
mushroom + rhiza root]
mycosis n. any disease caused by a fungus, e.g. ringworm. ЬЬmycotic
adj. [Gk mukes mushroom + -OSIS]
mycotoxin n. any toxic substance produced by a fungus.
n. the condition of a plant which has mycorrhizae and is
perhaps helped to assimilate nutrients as a result. [G
Mykotrophie f. Gk mukes mushroom + trophe nourishment]
mydriasis n. excessive dilation of the pupil of the eye. [L f. Gk
myelin n. a white substance which forms a sheath around certain
nerve-fibres. ЬЬmyelination n. [Gk muelos marrow + -IN]
myelitis n. inflammation of the spinal cord. [mod.L f. Gk muelos
myeloid adj. of or relating to bone marrow or the spinal cord. [Gk
myeloma n. (pl. myelomas or myelomata) a malignant tumour of the bone
marrow. [mod.L, as MYELITIS + -OMA]
mylodon n. an extinct gigantic ground sloth of the genus Mylodon, with
cylindrical teeth and found in deposits formed during the ice
age of the Pleistocene epoch in South America. [mod.L f. Gk
mule mill, molar + odous odontos tooth]
myna n. (also mynah, mina) any of various SE Asian starlings, esp.
Gracula religiosa able to mimic the human voice. [Hindi maina]
myo- comb. form (also my- before a vowel) muscle. [Gk mus muos
n. (pl. myocardia) the muscular tissue of the heart.
ЬЬmyocardiac adj. myocardial adj. [MYO- + Gk kardia heart]
myofibril n. any of the elongated contractile threads found in striated
myogenic adj. originating in muscle tissue.
myoglobin n. an oxygen-carrying protein containing iron and found in
myology n. the study of the structure and function of muscles.
myope n. a short-sighted person. [F f. LL myops f. Gk muops f. muo
shut + ops eye]
myopia n. 1 short-sightedness. 2 lack of imagination or intellectual
insight. ЬЬmyopic adj. myopically adv. [mod.L (as MYOPE)]
myosis var. of MIOSIS.
myosotis n. (also myosote) any plant of the genus Myosotis with blue,
pink, or white flowers, esp. a forget-me-not. [L f. Gk muosotis
f. mus muos mouse + ous otos ear]
myotonia n. the inability to relax voluntary muscle after vigorous
effort. ЬЬmyotonic adj. [MYO- + Gk tonos tone]
myriad n. & adj. literary --n. 1 an indefinitely great number. 2 ten
thousand. --adj. of an indefinitely great number. [LL mirias
miriad- f. Gk murias -ados f. murioi 10,000]
myriapod n. & adj. --n. any land-living arthropod of the group
Myriapoda, with numerous leg-bearing segments, e.g. centipedes
and millipedes. --adj. of or relating to this group. [mod.L
Myriapoda (as MYRIAD, Gk pous podos foot)]
myrmidon n. 1 a hired ruffian. 2 a base servant. [L Myrmidones (pl.)
f. Gk Murmidones, warlike Thessalian people who went with
Achilles to Troy]
myrobalan n. 1 (in full myrobalan plum) = cherry plum. 2 (in full
myrobalan nut) the fruit of an Asian tree, Terminalia chebula,
used in medicines, for tanning leather, and to produce inks and
dyes. [F myrobolan or L myrobalanum f. Gk murobalanos f. muron
unguent + balanos acorn]
myrrh(1) n. a gum resin from several trees of the genus Commiphora used,
esp. in the Near East, in perfumery, medicine, incense, etc.
ЬЬmyrrhic adj. myrrhy adj. [OE myrra, myrre f. L myrr(h)a f.
Gk murra, of Semitic orig.]
myrrh(2) n. = sweet cicely. [L myrris f. Gk murris]
adj. of or relating to the plant family Myrtaceae, including
myrtle n. 1 an evergreen shrub of the genus Myrtus with aromatic
foliage and white flowers, esp. M. communis, bearing
purple-black ovoid berries. 2 US = PERIWINKLE(1). [ME f. med.L
myrtilla, -us dimin. of L myrta, myrtus f. Gk murtos]
myself pron. 1 emphat. form of I(2) or ME(1) (I saw it myself; I like
to do it myself). 2 refl. form of ME(1) (I was angry with
myself; able to dress myself; as bad as myself). 3 in my normal
state of body and mind (I'm not myself today). 4 poet. = I(2).
Ьby myself see by oneself. I myself I for my part (I myself am
doubtful). [ME(1) + SELF: my- partly after herself with her
regarded as poss. pron.]
adj. 1 full of or wrapped in mystery. 2 (of a person)
delighting in mystery. ЬЬmysteriously adv. mysteriousness n.
[F myst‚rieux f. mystЉre f. OF (as MYSTERY(1))]
n. (pl. -ies) 1 a secret, hidden, or inexplicable matter (the
reason remains a mystery). 2 secrecy or obscurity (wrapped in
mystery). 3 (attrib.) secret, undisclosed (mystery guest). 4
the practice of making a secret of (esp. unimportant) things
(engaged in mystery and intrigue). 5 (in full mystery story) a
fictional work dealing with a puzzling event, esp. a crime (a
well-known mystery writer). 6 a a religious truth divinely
revealed, esp. one beyond human reason. b RC Ch. a decade of
the rosary. 7 (in pl.) a the secret religious rites of the
ancient Greeks, Romans, etc. b archaic the Eucharist. Ьmake a
mystery of treat as an impressive secret. mystery play a
miracle play. mystery tour (or trip) a pleasure excursion to an
unspecified destination. [ME f. OF mistere or L mysterium f. Gk
musterion, rel. to MYSTIC]
n. (pl. -ies) archaic a handicraft or trade, esp. as referred
to in indentures etc. (art and mystery). [ME f. med.L
misterium contr. of ministerium MINISTRY, assoc. with
mystic n. & adj. --n. a person who seeks by contemplation and
self-surrender to obtain unity or identity with or absorption
into the Deity or the ultimate reality, or who believes in the
spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the
understanding. --adj. 1 mysterious and awe-inspiring. 2
spiritually allegorical or symbolic. 3 occult, esoteric. 4 of
hidden meaning. ЬЬmysticism n. [ME f. OF mystique or L
mysticus f. Gk mustikos f. mustes initiated person f. muo
close the eyes or lips, initiate]
mystical adj. of mystics or mysticism. ЬЬmystically adv.
mystify v.tr. (-ies, -ied) 1 bewilder, confuse. 2 hoax, take advantage
of the credulity of. 3 wrap up in mystery. ЬЬmystification n.
[F mystifier (irreg. formed as MYSTIC or MYSTERY(1))]
mystique n. 1 an atmosphere of mystery and veneration attending some
activity or person. 2 any skill or technique impressive or
mystifying to the layman. [F f. OF (as MYSTIC)]
myth n. 1 a traditional narrative usu. involving supernatural or
imaginary persons and embodying popular ideas on natural or
social phenomena etc. 2 such narratives collectively. 3 a
widely held but false notion. 4 a fictitious person, thing, or
idea. 5 an allegory (the Platonic myth). ЬЬmythic adj.
mythical adj. mythically adv. [mod.L mythus f. LL mythos f. Gk
mythi pl. of MYTHUS.
mythicize v.tr. (also -ise) treat (a story etc.) as a myth; interpret
mythically. ЬЬmythicism n. mythicist n.
mytho- comb. form myth.
n. the production of myths.
n. a compiler of myths.
n. the representation of myths in plastic art.
mythology n. (pl. -ies) 1 a body of myths (Greek mythology). 2 the
study of myths. ЬЬmythologer n. mythologic adj. mythological
adj. mythologically adv. mythologist n. mythologize v.tr. &
intr. (also -ise). mythologizer n. [ME f. F mythologie or LL
mythologia f. Gk muthologia (as MYTHO-, -LOGY)]
n. an abnormal tendency to exaggerate or tell lies.
ЬЬmythomaniac n. & adj.
n. the making of myths. ЬЬmythopoeic adj. (also mythopoetic).
mythus n. (pl. mythi) literary a myth. [mod.L: see MYTH]
myxo- comb. form (also myx- before a vowel) mucus. [Gk muxa mucus]
myxoedema n. (US myxedema) a syndrome caused by hypothyroidism, resulting
in thickening of the skin, weight gain, mental dullness, loss of
energy, and sensitivity to cold.
myxoma n. (pl. myxomas or myxomata) a benign tumour of mucous or
gelatinous tissue. ЬЬmyxomatous adj. [mod.L (as MYXO-, -OMA)]
n. an infectious usu. fatal viral disease in rabbits, causing
swelling of the mucous membranes.
n. any of a group of small acellular organisms inhabiting damp
myxovirus n. any of a group of viruses including the influenza virus.