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[edit] macabre

muh-KAHB

adjective

Etymology

Macabre is first recorded in the phrase Macabrees daunce in a work written around 1430 by John Lydgate. Macabree was thought by Lydgate to be the name of a French author, but in fact he misunderstood the Old French phrase Danse Macabre, “the Dance of Death,” a subject of art and literature. In this dance, Death leads people of all classes and walks of life to the same final end. The macabre element may be an alteration of Macabe, “a Maccabee.” The Maccabees were Jewish martyrs who were honored by a feast throughout the Western Church, and reverence for them was linked to reverence for the dead. [1]

Definition
  1. suggesting the horror of death and decay
  2. gruesome
  3. ghastly
  4. constituting or including a representation of death [2]


[edit] macadam

muh-KAD-um

noun

Etymology

John Loudon McAdam, was a member of the Society who made a fortune while in New York. He returned to his native Scotland in 1783 and there he invented a process for paving roads, still called macadam or tarmac after him. He became general supervisor of roads in Great Britain and paved the streets of many cities and hundreds of miles of roads. [3]

Definition

a roadway or pavement especially with a bituminous binder [4]


[edit] macedoine

mass-uh-DWAHN

noun

Etymology

Macedoine is the French name for Macedonia, a region on the Balkan Peninsula that is now part of Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, and Bulgaria. Historically, this area has been home to a richly varied population encompassing many ethnic groups. Linguists believe that the cultural heterogeneity of the region may have inspired people to use its name as a generic term for any kind of wildly jumbled mixture. English speakers borrowed the word early in the 19th century, and later in the century it took on its more specific "salad" sense. [5]

Definition
  1. a mixture of fruits or vegetables, often served as a salad
  2. a medley [6]


[edit] maffick

MAFF-ik

verb

Etymology

An alteration of Mafeking Night, the British celebration of the lifting of the siege of a British military outpost during the South African War at the town of Mafikeng (also spelled Mafeking) on May 17, 1900. The South African War was fought between the British and the Afrikaners, who were Dutch and Huguenot settlers originally called Boers, over the right to govern frontier territories. Though the war did not end until 1902, the lifting of the siege of Mafikeng was a significant victory for the British because they held out against a larger Afrikaner force for 217 days until reinforcements could arrive. The rejoicing in British cities on news of the rescue produced "maffick", a word that was popular for a while, especially in journalistic writing, but is now less common. [7]

Definition

to celebrate with boisterous rejoicing and hilarious behavior [8]


[edit] malapropism

MA-luh-prop-izm

noun

Etymology

1849, from Mrs. Malaprop, character in Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), noted for her ridiculous misuse of large words (e.g. "contagious countries" for "contiguous countries"), her name coined from malapropos (adv.), 1668, a borrowing from French mal à propos "inopportunely, inappropriately," literally "badly for the purpose" [9]

Definition
  1. the ludicrous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound
  2. an example of such misuse [10]


[edit] manhattan

man-HA-tun

noun

Etymology

after Manhattan, a borough of New York City [11]

Definition

a cocktail consisting of vermouth, whiskey, and sometimes a dash of bitters [12]


[edit] marathon

MARE-uh-thon

noun

Etymology

from Marathon, Greece, site of a victory of Greeks over Persians in 490 B.C., the news of which was carried to Athens by a long-distance runner [13]

Definition
  1. a long-distance race
  2. a footrace run on an open course usually of 26 miles 385 yards (42.2 kilometers)
  3. a race other than a footrace marked especially by great length
  4. an endurance contest
  5. something (as an event, activity, or session) characterized by great length or concentrated effort [14]


[edit] margarita

MAR-guh-REE-tuh

noun

Etymology

from the feminine proper name, Margarita, the Spanish form of Margaret [15]

Definition

a cocktail consisting of tequila, lime or lemon juice, and an orange-flavored liqueur [16]


[edit] martial

MAR-shul

adjective

Etymology

from Latin martialis, of Mars, the Roman god of war [17]

Definition
  1. of, relating to, or suited for war or a warrior
  2. relating to an army or to military life
  3. experienced in or inclined to war
  4. warlike [18]


[edit] martinet

mar-tuh-NET

noun

Etymology

reputedly from the name of Colonel Jean Martinet a drillmaster of the French army during the reign of Louis XIV. The meaning "an officer who is a stickler for strict discipline" is first attested 1779. [19]

Definition
  1. a strict disciplinarian
  2. a person who stresses a rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods [20]


[edit] masochism

MAS-ock-i-zum

noun

Etymology

coined 1883 by German neurologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), from the name of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-95), Austrian novelist who enshrined his submissive sexuality in Venus in Furs [21]

Definition
  1. a sexual perversion characterized by pleasure in being subjected to pain or humiliation especially by a love object
  2. pleasure in being abused or dominated
  3. a taste for suffering [22]

compare with sadism


[edit] mau-mau

MOW-mow

verb

Etymology

The Mau Mau was a militant secret society that operated in colonial Kenya during the 1950s. The ferocity with which Mau Mau terrorists rebelled against British rule was well-documented by national news sources, like Newsweek and Time, and by 1970 "Mau Mau" had become synonymous with "hostile intimidation," especially when used for social or political gain. Novelist Tom Wolfe was the first to use "mau-mau" in print as a word for "intimidate." [23]

Definition
  1. to intimidate (as an official) by hostile confrontation or threats
  2. to engage in mau-mauing someone [24]


[edit] maudlin

MAWD-lin

adjective

Etymology

1607 from Middle English proper name Maudelen (c.1320), from Mary Magdalene, the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii. 37. In paintings, she was often shown weeping as a sign of repentance. [25]

Definition
  1. drunk enough to be emotionally silly
  2. weakly and effusively sentimental [26]


[edit] mausoleum

MAWZ-uh-LEE-um

noun

Etymology

from the Greek, Mausoleion, massive marble tomb built 353 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor for Mausolos, Persian satrap who made himself king of Caria. It was built by his wife (and sister), Artemisia. It was counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. [27]

Definition
  1. a stately and magnificent tomb
  2. a burial place for the bodies or remains of many individuals, often of a single family, usually in the form of a small building
  3. a large, gloomy, depressing building, room, or the like [28]


[edit] maverick

MAV-er-ick

noun

Etymology

1867, after Samuel A. Maverick (1803-70), a Texas cattle owner who was negligent in branding his calves [29]

Definition
  1. an unbranded calf, cow, or steer, esp. an unbranded calf that is separated from its mother
  2. a lone dissenter, as an intellectual, an artist, or a politician, who takes an independent stand apart from his or her associates
  3. nonconformist, independent, loner [30]


[edit] maxwell

MAKS-well

noun

Etymology

after James Clerk Maxwell (1831–79), Scottish physicist [31]

Definition
  1. a unit of magnetic flux
  2. the centimeter-gram-second electromagnetic unit of magnetic flux equal to the flux per square centimeter of normal cross section in a region where the magnetic induction is one gauss
  3. 0.00000001 weber [32]


[edit] meander

mee-AN-der

verb

Etymology

from Greek Maiandros, an old name for a river in Asia Minor, implies a winding course and lazy movement, and it is still sometimes associated with rivers (as in, "the river meandered through the town"). [33]

Definition
  1. to follow a winding or intricate course
  2. to wander aimlessly or casually without urgent destination
  3. ramble [34]


[edit] mendelevium

MEN-duh-LEE-vee-um

noun

Etymology

after the Russian chemist, Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev (1834–1907), who first devised and published the periodic table of the elements (1869) [35]

Definition

A synthetic radioactive transuranic element of the actinide series. Atomic number 101; mass numbers 256 and 258; half-lives approximately 1.3 hours (Md 256) and 51.5 days (Md 258) [36]


[edit] mercurial

mer-KYUR-ee-ul

adjective

Etymology

1390, pertaining to the planet Mercury. Meaning "sprightly, volatile, quick" (1593) is from supposed qualities of those born under the planet Mercury, probably partially by association with quicksilver [37]

Definition
  1. of, relating to, or born under the planet Mercury
  2. having qualities of eloquence, ingenuity, or thievishness attributed to the god Mercury or to the influence of the planet Mercury
  3. characterized by rapid and unpredictable changeableness of mood <a mercurial temper>
  4. of, relating to, containing, or caused by mercury [38]


[edit] merkin

MUR-kin

noun

Etymology

alteration of obsolete malkin, lower-class woman, mop, from Middle English, from Malkin, diminutive of the personal name Matilda. [39] According to The Oxford Companion to the Body, the custom of wearing merkins dates from c.1450, was associated with prostitutes, and was to disguise either pubic hair shaved off to exterminate body lice or evidence of venereal disease. [40]

Definition

a pubic wig for women [41]


[edit] mesmerism

MEZ-mer-IZ-um

noun

Etymology

Franz Anton Mesmer, a visionary 18th-century physician, believed cures could be effected by having patients do things such as sit with their feet in a fountain of magnetized water while holding cables attached to magnetized trees. Mesmer then came to believe that magnetic powers resided in himself, and during highly fashionable curative sessions in Paris he caused his patients to have reactions ranging from sleeping or dancing to convulsions. These reactions were actually brought about by hypnotic powers that Mesmer was unaware he possessed. One of his pupils, named Puységur, then used the term mesmerism (first recorded in English in 1802) for Mesmer's practices. The related word mesmerize (first recorded in English in 1829), having shed its reference to the hypnotic doctor, lives on in the sense “to enthrall.” [42]

Definition
  1. hypnotic induction held to involve animal magnetism
  2. broadly: hypnotism
  3. hypnotic appeal [43]


[edit] mick

MICK

noun

Etymology

from the name Mick, nickname for Michael [44]

Definition

a disparaging term for a person of Irish birth or descent [45]


[edit] milquetoast

MILK-toast

noun

Etymology

Caspar Milquetoast was a comic strip character created in 1924 by the American cartoonist Harold T. Webster. The strip, called "The Timid Soul," ran every Sunday in the New York Herald Tribune for many years. Webster, who claimed that Milquetoast was a self-portrait, summed up the character as "the man who speaks softly and gets hit with a big stick". [46]

Definition

a timid, meek, or unassertive person [47]


[edit] mithridate

MITH-ri-date

noun

Etymology

from Greek mithridteios, after Mithridates VI, who is said to have acquired tolerance for poison [48]

Definition
  1. an antidote against poison
  2. a confection held to be effective against all poisons [49]


[edit] mnemonic

ni-MON-ick

noun, adjective

Etymology

Mnemosyne, literally "memory, remembrance," was a titaness, mother of the Muses [50]

Defintion
  1. relating to, assisting, or intended to assist the memory (adjective)
  2. a device, such as a formula or rhyme, used as an aid in remembering (noun) [51]


[edit] mocha

MOE-ka

noun, adjective

Etymology

1733, from Mocha, Red Sea port of Yemen, from which coffee was exported [52]

Definition
  1. A rich pungent Arabian coffee
  2. coffee of high quality
  3. a coffee beverage flavored with milk, sugar, and cocoa
  4. a flavoring made of coffee mixed with chocolate
  5. a soft, thin, suede-finished glove leather usually made from sheepskin
  6. a dark olive brown [53]


[edit] mohawk

MOH-hawk

noun

Etymology

c.1975, from fancied resemblance to hair style of Mohawk Indians. The style of cut earlier was called a Mohican (1960). The tribe is Iroquoian; the name, first recorded in English as the plural Mohowawogs (1638), is said to mean "they eat living things" in a southern New England Algonquian tongue, probably a reference to cannibalism. [54]

Definition

a sometimes brightly coloured hairstyle, often worn in punk fashion, in which the hair is removed from the sides of the head and a central strip is made to point out from the head [55]


[edit] mondegreen

MON-duh-GREEN

noun

Etymology

The American writer Sylvia Wright first used the term in an essay "The Death of Lady Mondegreen," which was published in Harper's Magazine in November 1954. In the essay, Wright described how, as a young girl, she misheard the final line of the first stanza from the 17th century ballad "The Bonnie Earl O' Murray." She wrote: When I was a child, my mother used to read aloud to me from Percy's Reliques, and one of my favorite poems began, as I remember:
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl Amurray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

The actual fourth line is "And laid him on the green." [56]

Definition

a series of words that result from the mishearing or misinterpretation of a statement or song lyric. For example, "I led the pigeons to the flag" for "I pledge allegiance to the flag" [57]


[edit] montmorillonite

mont-moe-RIL-lon-ite

noun

Etymology

French, from Montmorillon, commune in western France [58]

Definition

a soft clayey water-absorbent mineral that is a hydrous aluminum silicate [59]


[edit] morocco

muh-ROK-oh

noun

Etymology

1634, short for Morocco leather, from Morocco, the country in northwest Africa, where the tanned leather was first made [60]

Definition

a fine leather from goatskin tanned with sumac [61]


[edit] moxie

MOX-ee

noun

Etymology

1908, popularized by Moxie, trademark name registered 1924 for a bitter non-alcoholic beverage; the word was used as far back as 1876 as the name of a patent medicine advertised to "build up your nerve," and it is perhaps ultimately from a New England Indian word. [62]

Definition
  1. the ability to face difficulty with spirit and courage
  2. aggressive energy; initiative
  3. skill; know-how [63]


[edit] mulligan

MULL-i-gun

noun

Etymology

1904, hobo slang, probably from a proper name. The golf sense (1949) is sometimes said to be from the name of a Canadian golfer in the 1920s whose friends gave him an extra shot in gratitude for driving them over rough roads to their weekly foursome at St. Lambert Country Club near Montreal. The name is from Gaelic Maolagan, a double dim. of mael "bald," hence "the little bald (or shaven) one," probably often a reference to a monk or disciple [64]

Definition
  1. a stew containing meat, vegetables, especially one made of any available ingredients
  2. in the game of golf, a shot not counted against the score, permitted in unofficial play to a player whose previous shot was poor[65]


[edit] museum

myoo-ZEE-um

noun

Etymology

from a seat or shrine of the Muses [66]

Definition

a building, place, or institution devoted to the acquisition, conservation, study, exhibition, and educational interpretation of objects having scientific, historical, or artistic value [67]


[edit] music

MYOO-zick

noun

Etymology

from Latin "musica," from Greek mousike techne "art of the Muses," In classical Greece, any art in which the Muses presided, but especially music [68]

Definition
  1. an art of sound in time that expresses ideas and emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color
  2. the tones or sounds employed, occurring in single line (melody) or multiple lines (harmony), and sounded or to be sounded by one or more voices or instruments, or both
  3. musical work or compositions for singing or playing
  4. the written or printed score of a musical composition
  5. such scores collectively
  6. any sweet, pleasing, or harmonious sounds or sound [69]
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