matron (n.) Look up matron at
late 14c., "married woman" (usually one of rank), from Old French matrone "married woman; elderly lady; patroness; midwife," and directly from Latin matrona "married woman, wife, matron," from mater (genitive matris) "mother" (see mother (n.1)). Sense of "female manager of a school, hospital, etc." first recorded 1550s.
matronly Look up matronly at
1580s (adv.), 1650s (adj.), from matron + -ly (2). An earlier adjective was matron-like (1570s).
matronymic (n.) Look up matronymic at
1794, a hybrid from Latin mater (see mother (n.1)) + Greek-based ending from patronymic. As an adjective from 1874.
matte (n.) Look up matte at
"backing for a picture," 1845, from French; see mat (n.2).
matte (n.) Look up matte at
variant of mat (n.2).
matted (adj.) Look up matted at
"tangled and lying flat" (of hair, etc.), 1610s, past participle adjective from mat (v.).
matter (n.) Look up matter at
c. 1200, materie, "subject of thought, speech, or expression," from Anglo-French matere, Old French matere "subject, theme, topic; substance, content, material; character, education" (12c., Modern French matière), from Latin materia "substance from which something is made," also "hard inner wood of a tree" (source also of Portuguese madeira "wood"), from mater "origin, source, mother" (see mother (n.1)). Or, on another theory, it represents *dmateria, from PIE root *dem-/*dom- (source of Latin domus "house," English timber). With sense development in Latin influenced by Greek hyle (see hylo-), of which it was the equivalent in philosophy.

Meaning "physical substance generally, matter, material" is early 14c.; that of "substance of which some specific object is made or consists of" is attested from late 14c. That of "piece of business, affair, activity, situation, circumstance" is from late 14c. From mid-14c. as "subject of a literary work, content of what is written, main theme." Also in Middle English as "cause, reasons, ground; essential character; field of investigation."

Matter of course "something expected" attested from 1739. For that matter attested from 1670s. What is the matter "what concerns (someone), the cause of the difficulty" is attested from mid-15c. To make no matter "be no difference to" also is mid-15c.
matter (v.) Look up matter at
"to be of importance or consequence," 1580s, from matter (n.). Related: Mattered; mattering.
matter-of-fact Look up matter-of-fact at
also matter of fact, 1570s as a noun, originally a legal term (translating Latin res facti), "that portion of an enquiry concerned with the truth or falsehood of alleged facts," opposed to matter of law. As an adjective from 1712. Meaning "prosaic, unimaginative" is from 1787. Related: Matter-of-factly; matter-of-factness. German Tatsache is said to be a loan-translation of the English word.
Matterhorn Look up Matterhorn at
Alpine mountain, from German Matte "meadow, pastureland" (see mead (n.2)) + Horn (see horn (n.)). So called for its horn-like shape.
matterless (adj.) Look up matterless at
late 14c., "insubstantial, immaterial, without physical substance," from matter (n.) + -less. From 1610s as "devoid of sense or meaning."
matters (n.) Look up matters at
"events, affairs of a particular sort," 1560s, from plural of matter (n.).
Matthew Look up Matthew at
masc. proper name, introduced in England by the Normans, from Old French Mathieu, from Late Latin Matthaeus, from Greek Matthaios, contraction of Mattathias, from Hebrew Mattathyah "gift of Jehovah," from mattath "gift." Variant Matthias is from the Greek version.
Matthias Look up Matthias at
masc. proper name, from Late Latin Matthias, from Greek Matthaios (see Matthew).
matting (n.1) Look up matting at
"process of making mats," 1720, from mat (n.1). Meaning "coarse fabric for mats" is from 1748.
matting (n.2) Look up matting at
"ornamental border of a picture," 1864 from verbal derivative of mat (n.2).
mattock (n.) Look up mattock at
Old English mættoc, probably from Vulgar Latin *matteuca "club," related to Latin mateola, a kind of mallet (see mace (n.1)), but this is not certain, and synonymous Russian motyka, Lithuanian matikkas suggest other possibilities. OED says similar words in Welsh and Gaelic are from English.
mattress (n.) Look up mattress at
late 13c., from Old French materas (12c., Modern French matelas), from Italian materasso and directly from Medieval Latin matracium, borrowed in Sicily from Arabic al-matrah "the cushion" (also source of Spanish almadraque "mattress," Provençal almatrac), literally "the thing thrown down," from taraha "he threw (down)."
maturate (v.) Look up maturate at
1540s, back-formation from maturation. Related: Maturated; maturating.
maturation (n.) Look up maturation at
early 15c., "the coming to a head of a boil, etc.; a state of producing pus," from Middle French maturation and directly from Latin maturationem (nominative maturatio), noun of action from past participle stem of maturare "to ripen, make ripe" (see mature (v.)).
mature (v.) Look up mature at
late 14c., "encourage suppuration;" mid-15c. "bring to maturity," from Latin maturare "to ripen, bring to maturity," from maturus "ripe, timely, early," related to manus "good" and mane "early, of the morning," from PIE root *ma- (1) "good," with derivatives meaning "occurring at a good moment, timely, seasonable, early." Meaning "come or bring to maturity" is from 1620s. The financial sense of "reach the time for payment" is from 1861. Related: Matured; maturing.
mature (adj.) Look up mature at
mid-15c., "ripe," also "careful, well-considered," from Latin maturus "ripe, timely, early" (see mature (v.)).
maturely (adv.) Look up maturely at
1530s, "promptly," from mature (adj.) + -ly (2). Sense of "with deliberation" is from 1590s; that of "in a way indicative of maturity" is from 1841.
maturescent (adj.) Look up maturescent at
1727, "grown ripe," from Latin maturescentem (nominative maturescens), present participle of maturescere "be ripe, ripen," from maturus "ripe" (see mature (v.)) + inchoative suffix -escere.
maturity (n.) Look up maturity at
early 15c., "maturity of character;" mid-15c., "ripeness," from Middle French maturité and directly from Latin maturitatem (nominative maturitas) "ripeness," from maturus "ripe" (see mature (v.)). Financial sense "state of being due for payment" is from 1815.
matutinal (adj.) Look up matutinal at
1650s, from Latin matutinalis "pertaining to morning," from matutinus "of or pertaining to the morning," from Matuta, name of the Roman goddess of dawn, related to maturus "early" (see mature (v.)). Earlier in same sense was matutine (mid-15c.). Related: Matutinally.
matzah (n.) Look up matzah at
also matza; see matzoh.
matzoh (n.) Look up matzoh at
also matzo, flat piece of unleavened bread eaten by Jews during the Passover, 1846, from Hebrew matztzah (plural matztzoth) "unleavened bread," literally "juiceless," from stem of matzatz "he sucked out, drained out."
Mau Mau (n.) Look up Mau Mau at
African secret society devoted to ending European rule, 1950, from the Kikuyu language of Kenya.
Maud Look up Maud at
fem. proper name, from Old French Mahaut, from Medieval Latin Matilda from Germanic (compare Old High German Mahthilda; see Matilda).
maudlin (adj.) Look up maudlin at
c. 1600, "tearful," from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman's name, originally surname of Mary the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii.37 (see Magdalene). In paintings, she often was shown weeping as a sign of repentance. Meaning "characterized by tearful sentimentality" is recorded by 1630s.
maul (v.) Look up maul at
mid-13c., meallen "strike with a heavy weapon," from Middle English mealle (mid-13c.) "mace, wooden club, heavy hammer" (see maul (n.)). The meaning "damage seriously, mangle" is first recorded 1690s. Related: Mauled; mauling.
maul (n.) Look up maul at
c. 1200, mealle, "hammer, usually a heavy one; sledgehammer," from Old French mail "hammer," from Latin malleus "hammer" (from PIE root *mele- "to crush, grind").
maulstick (n.) Look up maulstick at
"light stick used by painters to support the painting hand," 1650s, from Dutch maalstok, literally "painting stick," from mallen "to paint," from Proto-Germanic *mal- (source also of Old Norse mæla, Old High German malon "trace, draw, paint," German malen "to paint"), from mal "spot, mark, stain," perhaps from the same root as Greek melas "black" (see melanin), but the original sense is not color but marking. With stock "stick" (see stock (n.1)).
maunder (v.) Look up maunder at
"to wander about aimlessly," c. 1746, earlier "to mumble, grumble" (1620s), both senses perhaps from frequentative of maund "to beg" (1560s), which is possibly from French mendier "to beg," from Latin mendicare (see mendicant). "Though the etymology of maunder is uncertain, it is clear that it is not a corruption of meander" [Fowler], but the two words seem to have influenced each other. Fowler writes that maunder is "best confined to speech, & suggests futility rather than digression ... & failure to reach an end rather than loitering on the way to it." Related: Maundered; maundering.
Maundy Thursday Look up Maundy Thursday at
Thursday before Easter, mid-15c., from Middle English maunde "the Last Supper," also "ceremony of washing the feet," from Old French mandé, from Latin mandatum "commandment" (see mandate); said to be so called in reference to the opening words of the church service for this day, Mandatum novum do vobis "A new commandment I give unto you" (John xiii:34), words supposedly spoken by Jesus to the Apostles after washing their feet at the Last Supper.
Maurice Look up Maurice at
masc. proper name, from French Maurice, from Late Latin Mauritius, from Latin Maurus "inhabitant of Mauretania, Moor" (see Moor).
Mauser Look up Mauser at
1880, German army rifle, introduced 1871, invented by brothers Peter Paul (1838-1914) and Wilhelm (1834-1882) Mauser.
mausoleum (n.) Look up mausoleum at
"magnificent tomb," 1540s, from Latin mausoleum, from Greek Mausoleion, name of the massive marble tomb built 353 B.C.E. at Halicarnassus (Greek city in Asia Minor) for Mausolos, Persian satrap who made himself king of Caria. It was built by his wife (and sister), Artemisia. Counted among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world, it was destroyed by an earthquake in the Middle Ages. General sense of "any stately burial-place" is from c. 1600.
mauvais Look up mauvais at
in French terms in English, "false, worthless," from French mauvais (fem. mauvaise) "bad," 12c., from Vulgar Latin malifatius, literally "one who has a bad lot," from Latin malum "bad" (see mal-) + fatum "fate" (see fate (n.)).
mauve (n.) Look up mauve at
purple dye, 1859, from French mauve, from Old French mauve "mallow" (13c.), from Latin malva "mallow;" the dye so called from the color of the mallow plant. Related: Mauvish.
maven (n.) Look up maven at
1965, from Yiddish meyvn, from Hebrew mebhin, literally "one who understands." Plural is mayvinim.
maverick (n.) Look up maverick at
1867, "calf or yearling found without an owner's brand," so called for Samuel A. Maverick (1803-1870), Texas cattle owner who was negligent in branding his calves. Sense of "individualist, unconventional person" is first recorded 1886, via notion of "masterless."
mavis (n.) Look up mavis at
"song thrush," c. 1400, mavys, from Old French mauvis, of unknown origin; related to Spanish malvis. Breton milfid is a French loan word.
maw (n.) Look up maw at
Old English maga "stomach" (of men and animals; in Modern English only of animals unless insultingly), from Proto-Germanic *magon "bag, stomach" (source also of Old Frisian maga, Old Norse magi, Danish mave, Middle Dutch maghe, Dutch maag, Old High German mago, German Magen "stomach"), from PIE *mak- "leather bag" (source also of Welsh megin "bellows," Lithuanian makas, Old Church Slavonic mošina "bag, pouch"). Meaning "throat, gullet" is from 1520s. Metaphoric of voracity from late 14c.
mawkish (adj.) Look up mawkish at
1660s, "sickly, nauseated," from Middle English mawke "maggot" (see maggot). Sense of "sickly sentimental" is first recorded 1702. Related: Mawkishly; mawkishness.
mawworm (n.) Look up mawworm at
"worm infesting the stomach," c. 1600, from maw (n.) + worm (n.).
max (v.) Look up max at
"to reach the maximum level," by 1986, colloquial, from maximize or related words. Related: Maxed; maxing.
maxi- Look up maxi- at
word-forming element meaning "maximum, very large, very long," from comb. form of maximum.
maxilla (n.) Look up maxilla at
"jaw, jawbone," 1670s, from Latin maxilla "upper jaw," diminutive of mala "jaw, cheekbone." "Maxilla stands to mala as axilla, 'armpit,' stands to ala 'wing'" [Klein]. Related: Maxillar; maxilliform.