"deep mud, bog, marsh, swampland," c. 1300, from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse myrr "bog, swamp," from Proto-Germanic *miuzja- (source of Old English mos "bog, marsh"), from PIE *meus- "damp" (see moss).
c. 1400, in figurative sense of "to involve in difficulties," from mire (n.). Literal sense of "to plunge or fix in mire, sink or stall in mud" is from 1550s; that of "to cover in mud or filth" is from c. 1500. Related: Mired; miring.
1570s, "soft, wet, boggy land; a marsh," from obsolete quag "bog, marsh" + mire (n.). Early spellings or related forms include quamyre (1550s), quabmire (1590s), quadmire (c. 1600), quavemire (1520s), qualmire.
The extended sense of "difficult situation, inescapable bad position" is recorded by 1766; but this seems to have been not in common use in much of 19c. (absent in "Century Dictionary," 1897, which does, however, have a verb, marked "rare," meaning "to entangle or sink in or as in a quagmire"). It revived in a narrower sense in American English in reference to stalled military actions, 1965, with reference to the U.S. war in Vietnam (popularized in the book title "The Making of a Quagmire" by David Halberstam).
"fine soft mud or slime," Old English wase "soft mud, mire," from Proto-Germanic *waison (source also of Old Saxon waso "wet ground, mire," Old Norse veisa "pond of stagnant water"), probably from a PIE root meaning "wet." Modern spelling is from mid-1500s.
"ant," late 14c., pisse-mire (early 14c. as a surname, Henricus pessemere), from pyss "urine" (said to be in reference to the acrid smell of an anthill) + mire "an ant" (mid-13c., early 13c. as a surname), perhaps from an unattested Old English word or from Old Norse maurr "ant" (cognate with Swedish myra, Danish myre, Middle Dutch miere, Dutch mier, Crimean Gothic miera "ant"), from PIE *morwi- (see Formica (2)). Compare pissant, also Old Frisian pis-imme, Norwegian migemaur (first element from Latin mingere); early Dutch mierseycke (with seycke "urine"), Finnish kusiainen (with kusi "urine").
He is as angry as a pissemyre,
Though þat he haue al that he kan desire.
Applied contemptuously to persons from 1560s.
c. 1400, "to wet, moisten," from Old French moillier "to wet, moisten" (12c., Modern French mouiller), from Vulgar Latin *molliare, from Latin mollis "soft," from PIE root *mel- (1) "soft." Sense of "drudge, labor, toil" (1540s) probably is via the notion of "to labor in dirt or mire." Related: Moiled; moiling.