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Mary

[ mer-ee, mair-ee ]
/ ˈmɛr i, ˈmɛər i /
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noun

Also called Virgin Mary . the mother of Jesus.
the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Luke 10:38–42; John 11:1,2.
Princess Victoria Mary of Teck, 1867–1953, Queen of England 1910–36 (wife of George V).
Slang: Sometimes Disparaging and Offensive. a term used to refer to or address a gay man (sometimes used facetiously).
a female given name.

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Origin of Mary

First recorded before 1000; Middle English Marie, Old English Maria, from Late Latin, from Greek María, from Hebrew Miryām; see Miriam

usage note for Mary

When referring to a gay man, the term Mary can be contemptuous. However, even in direct address, it is more often used for humorous effect, without intent to offend. In fact, Mary is a term of address sometimes adopted by gay people themselves.

pronunciation note for Mary

Pop Quiz: Do you pronounce Mary, marry, and merry all with slightly different vowels? If so, we venture to guess that you're from the northeastern part of the United States.
In that region, Mary is pronounced with the same vowel as mare [mair], /mɛər/, marry with the same vowel as mat [mat], /mæt/, and merry with the same vowel as met [met]. /mɛt/.
Many of these regional distinctions persist despite the equalizing effect of modern communications technology. But because patterns of sound can shift, linguists have documented how certain vowel sounds have merged over time to be pronounced the same, though still spelled differently. The majority of Americans use the merged vowel [e], /ɛ/, as in met, for all three words. The three-way contrast can be heard in New York City and Boston. Philadelphia's three-way contrast includes an additional merger of Murray and merry, where both words are pronounced with the same vowel as fur [fur]. /fɜr/. Two-way mergers are also common, notably Mary and merry (but not marry ) in the South.
Other vowel mergers can be heard in regional dialects of American English, for example pin and pen, or cot and caught. Do you merge or not?
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for Mary

British Dictionary definitions for Mary (1 of 2)

Mary1
/ (ˈmɛərɪ) /

noun

original name Princess Mary of Teck. 1867–1953, queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (1910–36) by marriage to George V

British Dictionary definitions for Mary (2 of 2)

Mary2
/ (ˈmɛərɪ) /

noun

New Testament
  1. Saint Mary or the Virgin Mary the mother of Jesus, believed to have conceived and borne him while still a virgin; she was married to Joseph (Matthew 1:18–25). Major feast days: Feb 2, Mar 25, May 31, Aug 15, Sept 8
  2. the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38–42; John 11:1–2)
plural Maries Australian obsolete, derogatory, slang an Aboriginal woman or girl
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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