Entries linking to merriment
Middle English mirie, from Old English myrge "pleasing, agreeable, pleasant, sweet, exciting feelings of enjoyment and gladness" (said of grass, trees, the world, music, song); also as an adverb, "pleasantly, melodiously," from Proto-Germanic *murgijaz, which probably originally meant "short-lasting," (compare Old High German murg "short," Gothic gamaurgjan "to shorten"), from PIE root *mregh-u- "short." The only exact cognate for meaning outside English was Middle Dutch mergelijc "joyful."
The connection to "pleasure" likely was via the notion of "making time fly, that which makes the time seem to pass quickly" (compare German Kurzweil "pastime," literally "a short time;" Old Norse skemta "to amuse, entertain, amuse oneself," from skamt, neuter of skammr "short"). There also was a verbal form in Old English, myrgan "be merry, rejoice." For vowel evolution, see bury (v.).
Not originally applied to humorous moods or speech or conduct, yet the word had a much wider senses in Middle English than modern: "pleasant-sounding" (of animal voices), "fine" (of weather), "handsome" (of dress), "pleasant-tasting" (of herbs). The evolution of the modern senses is probably via the meaning "pleased by a certain event or situation or state of things" (c. 1200). Of persons, "cheerful by disposition or nature; playfully cheerful, enlivened with gladness or good spirits," by mid-14c.
Merry-bout "an incident of sexual intercourse" was low slang from 1780. Merry-begot "illegitimate" (adj.), also "bastard" (n.) are in Grose (1785). Merrie England (now frequently satirical or ironic) is c. 1400, meri ingland, originally in a broader sense of "bountiful, prosperous." Merry Monday was a 16c. term for "the Monday before Shrove Tuesday" (Mardi Gras).
common suffix of Latin origin forming nouns, originally from French and representing Latin -mentum, which was added to verb stems to make nouns indicating the result or product of the action of the verb or the means or instrument of the action. In Vulgar Latin and Old French it came to be used as a formative in nouns of action. French inserts an -e- between the verbal root and the suffix (as in commenc-e-ment from commenc-er; with verbs in ir, -i- is inserted instead (as in sent-i-ment from sentir).
The stems to which -ment is normally appended are those of verbs; freaks like oddment & funniment should not be made a precedent of; they are themselves due to misconception of merriment, which is not from the adjective, but from an obsolete verb merry to rejoice. [Fowler]
updated on February 10, 2019