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or mortice

[mawr-tis] /ˈmɔr tɪs/
a notch, hole, groove, or slot made in a piece of wood or the like to receive a tenon of the same dimensions.
a deep recess cut into wood for any of several other purposes, as for receiving a mortise lock.
Printing. a space cut out of a plate, especially for the insertion of type or another plate.
verb (used with object), mortised, mortising.
to secure with a mortise and tenon.
to cut or form a mortise in (a piece of wood or the like).
to join securely.
  1. to cut metal from (a plate).
  2. to cut out metal from a plate and insert (new material) in its place.
Origin of mortise
1350-1400; Middle English morteys, mortaise < Anglo-French mortais(e), Old French mortoise, of obscure origin
Related forms
mortiser, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mortise
Historical Examples
  • The end rails have a mortise in them for the tenons on the ends of the foot boards.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • The operation of cutting the mortise is called dove-tailing.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • The back posts also have a mortise cut in them at the top for the back board as shown.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • In order to get these pieces into place, the mortise in the long post must be made 1/2 in.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • It is put together, generally by mortise, tenon and cotter, but it has four original screws all made by hand with the file.

  • The joints may be made with dowels, or the mortise and tenon may be used, as desired.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • The projection is called the tenon, and the cavity the mortise.

    Woodwork Joints William Fairham
  • The mortise for the key is to be placed in the middle of the tenon.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • The other is by using a smaller chisel after the mortise has first been bored with the brace and bit.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
  • Set the gauge for the side of the mortise nearest the face edge.

    Mission Furniture H. H. Windsor
British Dictionary definitions for mortise


a slot or recess, usually rectangular, cut into a piece of wood, stone, etc, to receive a matching projection (tenon) of another piece, or a mortise lock
(printing) a cavity cut into a letterpress printing plate into which type or another plate is inserted
verb (transitive)
to cut a slot or recess in (a piece of wood, stone, etc)
to join (two pieces of wood, stone, etc) by means of a mortise and tenon
to cut a cavity in (a letterpress printing plate) for the insertion of type, etc
Derived Forms
mortiser, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French mortoise, perhaps from Arabic murtazza fastened in position
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mortise

c.1400, "hole or groove in which something is fitted to form a joint," from Old French mortaise (13c.), possibly from Arabic murtazz "fastened," past participle of razza "cut a mortise in." Cf. Spanish mortaja.


mid-15c., from mortise (n.). Related: Mortised; mortising.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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