masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.
It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
line of Jewish princes who ruled in Judea, late 14c., from Late Latin Maccabæus, surname given to Judas, third son of Mattathias the Hasmonean, leader of the religious revolt against Antiochus IV, 175-166 B.C.E. Usually connected with Hebrew maqqabh "hammer," but Klein thinks it an inexact transliteration of Hebrew matzbi "general, commander of an army." Related: Maccabean.
chemical spray originally used in riot control, 1966, technically Chemical Mace, a proprietary name (General Ordnance Equipment Corp, Pittsburgh, Pa.), probably so called for its use as a weapon, in reference to mace (n.1). The verb, "to spray with Mace," is attested by 1968. Related: Maced; macing.
"heavy one-handed metal weapon, often with a spiked head, for striking," c. 1300, from Old French mace "a club, scepter" (Modern French massue), from Vulgar Latin *mattea (source also of Italian mazza, Spanish maza "mace"), from Latin mateola (in Late Latin also matteola) "a kind of mallet." The Latin word perhaps is cognate with Sanskrit matyam "harrow, club, roller," Old Church Slavonic motyka, Russian motyga "hoe," Old High German medela "plow" [de Vaan, Klein].
As a ceremonial symbol of authority or office, a scepter or staff having somewhat the form of a mace of war, it is attested from mid-14c. Related: Mace-bearer.
"spice made from dry outer husk of nutmeg," late 14c., from Old French macis (in English taken as a plural and stripped of its -s), a word of uncertain origin, sometimes said to be a scribal error for Latin macir, the name of a red spicy bark from India, but OED finds this etymology unlikely.
c. 1300, Macedone, from Latin Macedonius "Macedonian," from Greek Makedones "the Macedonians," literally "highlanders" or "the tall ones," related to makednos "long, tall," makros "long, large" (from PIE root *mak- "long, thin"). Macédoine "mixed cut fruit or vegetables" is by 1846, from French, said to be a reference to the diversity of people in Alexander's empire.
c. 1300 (n.) "native or inhabitant of ancient Macedonia," from Latin Macedonius (see Macedonia) + -an. From 1580s as an adjective, "belonging or relating to ancient Macedonia." The people of Alexander the Great; they used a Greek language and were akin to the Greeks, and in Lower Macedonia, especially along the coasts where the two peoples were in contact, they were largely Hellenized, but in classical times among the Greeks (who were sensitive about identity) seem to have been generally considered foreigners, though not barbarians, due to the important differences, such as government by monarchy.
late 15c., "soften and separate by steeping in a fluid," a back-formation from maceration, or else from Latin maceratus, past participle of macerare "to make soft or tender; soften by steeping or soaking;" in transferred sense "to weaken" in body or mind, "to waste away, enervate," which is related to maceria "garden wall," originally "of kneaded clay," probably from PIE *mak-ero-, suffixed form of root *mag- "to knead, fashion, fit," but there are phonetic difficulties. Related: Macerated; macerating.
late 15c., "act or process of making lean or thin," from Latin macerationem (nominative maceratio) "a steeping, soaking; a making soft or tender," noun of action from past-participle stem of macerare "to make soft or tender; soften by steeping or soaking;" in transferred sense "to weaken" in body or mind, "to waste away, enervate" (see macerate). Meaning "act or process of almost dissolving by steeping in a fluid" is from 1610s.