1901 (in modern use; earlier march payne, late 15c., from French or Dutch), from German Marzipan, from Italian marzapane "candy box," from Medieval Latin matapanus "small box," earlier, "coin bearing image of seated Christ," which is of uncertain origin, altered in Italian by folk etymology as though from Latin Marci panis "bread of Mark." One suggestion is that this is from Arabic mawthaban "king who sits still." Nobody seems to quite accept this, but nobody has a better idea. The Medieval Latin word also is the source of Spanish mazapán, French massepain.
updated on November 28, 2018