• synonyms


  1. a strong, sweet wine with a strong flavor, originally made in Greece but now made mainly in Madeira.
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Origin of malmsey

1325–75; Middle English malmesye < Middle Low GermanMonemvasia Greek town where it was originally produced
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for malmsey

Historical Examples

  • "We are glad to see thee, brother," said he, holding out the flask of Malmsey.

    The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

    Howard Pyle

  • It must have been a very bad one, because he was killed by a butt of Malmsey.

    New Treasure Seekers

    E. (Edith) Nesbit

  • "Malmsey," shouted Alice, no longer able to control herself.

  • The duke being willing to die a merry death, chose to be drowned in a butt of Malmsey.

    Ebrietatis Encomium

    Boniface Oinophilus

  • Not a guinea—though you should threaten to drown him, like his namesake, in a butt of malmsey—to save his life.

British Dictionary definitions for malmsey


  1. a sweet Madeira wine
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Word Origin

C15: from Medieval Latin Malmasia, corruption of Greek Monembasia, Greek port from which the wine was shipped
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

Word Origin and History for malmsey


c.1400, type of strong, sweet white wine, from Provençal malmesie or Middle Dutch malemesye, both from Medieval Latin malmasia, from Medieval Greek Monembasia "Monemvasia," a town in the southern Peloponnesus that was an important center of wine production in the Middle Ages, literally "only one entrance," from monos "alone, only" (see mono-) + embasis "entering into," from en- "in" + basis "a going, a stepping, a base" (see basis).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper