late 14c., of a voice, "pure, clear;" mid-15c., of abstract things, "absolute, sheer;" from Old French mier "pure" (of gold), "entire, total, complete," and directly from Latin merus "unmixed" (of wine), "pure; bare, naked;" figuratively "true, real, genuine," according to some sources probably originally "clear, bright," from PIE *mer- "to gleam, glimmer, sparkle" (source also of Old English amerian "to purify," Old Irish emer "not clear," Sanskrit maricih "ray, beam," Greek marmarein "to gleam, glimmer"). But de Vaan writes "there is no compelling reason to derive 'pure' from 'shining,'" and compares Hittite marri "just so, gratuitously," and suggests the source is a PIE *merH-o- "remaining, pure."
The English sense of "nothing less than, in the fullest sense absolute" (mid-15c., surviving now only in vestiges such as mere folly) existed for centuries alongside the apparently opposite sense of "nothing more than" (1580s, as in a mere dream).
"pool, small lake, pond," from Old English mere "sea, ocean; lake, pool, pond, cistern," from Proto-Germanic *mari (source also of Old Norse marr, Old Saxon meri "sea," Middle Dutch maer, Dutch meer "lake, sea, pool," Old High German mari, German Meer "sea," Gothic marei "sea," mari-saiws "lake"), from PIE root *mori- "body of water." The larger sense of "sea, arm of the sea" has been obsolete since Middle English. Century Dictionary reports it "Not used in the U.S. except artificially in some local names, in imitation of British names."
"boundary line" (between kingdoms, estates, fields, etc.), now surviving in provincial use or place names, but once an important word, from Old English mære "boundary, object indicating a boundary," from Proto-Germanic *mairjo- (source also of Middle Dutch mere "boundary mark, stake," Old Norse -mæri "boundary, border-land"), related to Latin murus "wall" (see mural (n.)).
Hence merestone "stone serving as a landmark" (Old English mærstan); mere-stake "pole or tree standing as a mark or boundary" (1620s); meresman "man appointed to find boundaries" (of a parish, etc.). In Middle English meres of erthe (c. 1400) was "the ends of the earth."
in reference to the pre-1933 democratic government of Germany, 1932, from name of city in Thuringia where German constitution was drawn up in 1919. The place name is a compound of Old High German wih "holy" + mari "lake" (see mere (n.1)).
English river running past Liverpool, c. 1000, Mærse, probably "boundary river," from Old English mæres (genitive singular of mære "boundary, object indicating a boundary;" see mere (n.2)) + ea "river." Related: Merseysider. Mersey beat, in reference to the popular music style associated with the Beatles, is by 1963.
type of soft white clay, 1784; from 1789 as "tobacco pipe with a bowl made of baked meerschaum clay," from German Meerschaum, literally "sea-foam," so called from its frothy appearance; from Old High German mari "sea" (see mere (n.1)) + scum "scum" (see skim (v.)). A loan-translation of Latin spuma maris, itself said to be a loan translation of Greek halos akhne, from Persian kaf-i-darya.
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "body of water."
It forms all or part of: aquamarine; Armorica; beche-de-mer; cormorant; mare (n.2) "broad, dark areas of the moon;" marina; marinate; marine; mariner; maritime; marsh; mere (n.1) "lake, pool;" Merlin; mermaid; merman; meerschaum; meerkat; morass; Muriel; rosemary; submarine; ultramarine; Weimar.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin mare; Old Church Slavonic morje, Russian more, Lithuanian marės, Old Irish muir, Welsh mor "sea;" Old English mere "sea, ocean; lake, pool," German Meer "sea."
late 15c. (Caxton), "monkey," a sense now obsolete, from Dutch meerkat "monkey" (related to Old High German mericazza), apparently from meer "lake" (see mere (n.1)) + kat (see cat (n.)). But compare Hindi markat, Sanskrit markata "ape," which might serve as a source of a Teutonic folk-etymology, though the word was in Germanic before any known direct contact with India. The word was applied to the small South African mammals by 1801, probably via Dutch settlers, who seem to have applied the word to a variety of burrowing animals, perhaps via folk-etymology of a native word.
The little meerkats were surely created for the express purpose of being made into pet animals. Certainly no prettier or funnier little live toys could possibly be imagined. Nearly every homestead in the Karroo has its tame meerkat, or more likely two or three, all as much petted and indulged, and requiring as much looking after, as spoilt and mischievous children. [Annie Martin, "Home Life on an Ostrich Farm," 1890]