"mixture of cement," late 13c., from Old French mortier "builder's mortar, plaster; bowl for mixing" (13c.), from Latin mortarium "mortar," also "crushed drugs," probably the same word as mortarium "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)). Dutch mortel, German Mörtel are from Latin or French.
"bowl for pounding," c. 1300, from Old French mortier "bowl; builder's mortar," from Latin mortarium "bowl for mixing or pounding," also "material prepared in it," of unknown origin as it is impossible now to determine which sense was original. Watkins says probably from PIE root *mer- "to rub away, harm." Late Old English had mortere, from the same Latin source, which might also be a source of the modern word. German Mörser also is from Latin.
"short cannon" fired at a high angle and meant to secure a vertical fall of the projectile, 1550s, originally mortar-piece, from Middle French mortier "short cannon," in Old French, "bowl for mixing or pounding" (see mortar (n.2)). So called for its shape.
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