mark (n.1)

"trace, impression," Old English mearc (West Saxon), merc (Mercian) "boundary, limit; sign, landmark," from Proto-Germanic *markō (source also of Old Norse merki "boundary, sign," mörk "forest," which often marked a frontier; Old Frisian merke, Gothic marka "boundary, frontier," Dutch merk "mark, brand," German Mark "boundary, boundary land"), from PIE root *merg- "boundary, border." Influenced by, and partly from, Scandinavian cognates. The Germanic word was borrowed widely and early in Romanic (compare marque; march (n.2), marquis).

The primary sense "boundary" had evolved by Old English through "pillar, post, etc. as a sign of a boundary," through "a sign in general," then to "impression or trace forming a sign." Meaning "any visible trace or impression" is recorded by c. 1200. Meaning "a cross or other character made by an illiterate person as a signature" is from late Old English. Sense of "line drawn to indicate the starting point of a race" (as in on your marks..., which is by 1890) is attested by 1887.

The Middle English sense of "target" (c. 1200) is the notion in marksman and slang sense "victim of a swindle" (1883). The notion of "sign, token" is behind the meaning "a characteristic property, a distinctive feature" (1520s), also that of "numerical award given by a teacher" (by 1829). To make (one's) mark "attain distinction" is by 1847.

In medieval England and in Germany, "a tract of land held in common by a community," hence Mark of Brandenburg, etc.

mark (n.2)

"unit of money or weight," late Old English marc, a unit of weight (chiefly for gold or silver) equal to about eight ounces, probably from Old Norse mörk "unit of weight," cognate with German Mark and probably ultimately a derivative of mark (n.1), perhaps in a sense of "imprinted weight or coin." It was a unit of account in England into 18c., perhaps originally introduced by the Danes, but never the name of a particular coin.

The word is found in all the Germanic and Romanic languages (compare Old Frisian merk, Dutch mark, Medieval Latin marca, French marc (11c.), Spanish and Italian marco); in English it was used from 18c. in reference to various continental coinages, especially the silver money of Germany first issued 1875.


masc. proper name, variant of Marcus (q.v.). Among the top 10 names given to boy babies born in the U.S. between 1955 and 1970.

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of American writer and humorist Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835-1910), who had been a riverboat pilot; he took his pen name from the cry mark twain, the call indicating a depth of two fathoms, from mark (n.1) in a specialized sense of "measured notification (a piece of knotted cloth, etc.) on a lead-line indicating fathoms of depth" (1769) + twain.

mark (v.)

"to put a mark on," Old English mearcian (West Saxon), merciga (Anglian) "to trace out boundaries;" in late Old English "make a mark or marks on," from Proto-Germanic *markojan (source also of Old Norse merkja, Old Saxon markon "appoint, observe, remark," Old Frisian merkia, Old High German marchon "to limit, plan out," German merken "to mark, note," Middle Dutch and Dutch merken "to set a mark on"), from the root of mark (n.1).

Influenced by the Scandinavian cognates. Meaning "to have a mark" is from c. 1400; that of "to notice, observe" is late 14c. Figurative sense of "designate as if by placing a mark on," hence "to destine," is from late Old English. Meaning "be a noteworthy feature of" is by 1660s. To mark time (1833) is from military drill, originally "move the feet as if marching but remain in place."

The verbs in Romanic are from the nouns, which are early borrowings from Germanic: Old French merchier "to mark, note, stamp, brand," French marquer "to mark," Spanish marcar, Italian marcare.

updated on January 04, 2019

Definitions of mark from WordNet
mark (v.)
attach a tag or label to;
Synonyms: tag / label
mark (v.)
designate as if by a mark;
This sign marks the border
mark (v.)
be a distinctive feature, attribute, or trait; sometimes in a very positive sense;
mark (v.)
celebrate by some ceremony or observation;
The citizens mark the anniversary of the revolution with a march and a parade
Synonyms: commemorate
mark (v.)
make or leave a mark on;
the scouts marked the trail
ash marked the believers' foreheads
mark (v.)
to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful;
Synonyms: stigmatize / stigmatise / brand / denounce
mark (v.)
notice or perceive;
mark my words
Synonyms: notice / note
mark (v.)
mark with a scar;
Synonyms: scar / pock / pit
mark (v.)
make small marks into the surface of;
Synonyms: score / nock
mark (v.)
establish as the highest level or best performance;
Synonyms: set
mark (v.)
make underscoring marks;
Synonyms: score
mark (v.)
remove from a list;
Synonyms: cross off / cross out / strike out / strike off
mark (v.)
put a check mark on or near or next to;
mark off the units
Synonyms: check / check off / mark off / tick off / tick
mark (v.)
assign a grade or rank to, according to one's evaluation;
mark homework
Synonyms: grade / score
mark (v.)
insert punctuation marks into;
Synonyms: punctuate
mark (n.)
a number or letter indicating quality (especially of a student's performance);
she made good marks in algebra
Synonyms: grade / score
mark (n.)
a distinguishing symbol;
the owner's mark was on all the sheep
Synonyms: marker / marking
mark (n.)
a reference point to shoot at;
his arrow hit the mark
Synonyms: target
mark (n.)
a visible indication made on a surface;
some previous reader had covered the pages with dozens of marks
Synonyms: print
mark (n.)
the impression created by doing something unusual or extraordinary that people notice and remember;
it was in London that he made his mark
he left an indelible mark on the American theater
mark (n.)
a symbol of disgrace or infamy; "And the Lord set a mark upon Cain"--Genesis;
Synonyms: stigma / brand / stain
mark (n.)
formerly the basic unit of money in Germany;
Synonyms: German mark / Deutsche Mark / Deutschmark
mark (n.)
a person who is gullible and easy to take advantage of;
Synonyms: chump / fool / gull / patsy / fall guy / sucker / soft touch / mug
mark (n.)
a written or printed symbol (as for punctuation);
his answer was just a punctuation mark
mark (n.)
a perceptible indication of something not immediately apparent (as a visible clue that something has happened);
Synonyms: sign
mark (n.)
an indication of damage;
Synonyms: scratch / scrape / scar
mark (n.)
a marking that consists of lines that cross each other;
Synonyms: crisscross / cross
mark (n.)
something that exactly succeeds in achieving its goal;
hit the mark
Synonyms: bell ringer / bull's eye / home run
Mark (n.)
Apostle and companion of Saint Peter; assumed to be the author of the second Gospel;
Synonyms: Saint Mark / St. Mark
Mark (n.)
the shortest of the four Gospels in the New Testament;
Synonyms: Gospel According to Mark
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.