"gloom, darkness," c. 1300, myrke, from Old Norse myrkr "darkness," from Proto-Germanic *merkwjo- (source also of Old English mirce "murky, black, dark;" as a noun, "murkiness, darkness," Danish mǿrk "darkness," Old Saxon mirki "dark"); perhaps cognate with Old Church Slavonic mraku, Serbo-Croatian mrak, Russian mrak "darkness;" Lithuanian merkti "shut the eyes, blink," from PIE *mer- "to flicker" (see morn). In Middle English also as an adjective (c. 1300, from Old Norse) and a verb. Sometimes spelled mirk, especially in Scotland. Mirk Monday was long the name in Scotland for the great solar eclipse of March 29, 1652 (April 8, New Style).
updated on March 23, 2019