[ mawr-ter ]
/ ˈmɔr tər /


a receptacle of hard material, having a bowl-shaped cavity in which substances are reduced to powder with a pestle.
any of various mechanical appliances in which substances are pounded or ground.
a cannon very short in proportion to its bore, for throwing shells at high angles.
some similar contrivance, as for throwing pyrotechnic bombs or a lifeline.

verb (used with or without object)

to attack with mortar fire or shells.

Nearby words

  1. mortal sin/venial sin,
  2. mortality,
  3. mortality rate,
  4. mortality table,
  5. mortally,
  6. mortarboard,
  7. mortgage,
  8. mortgage bond,
  9. mortgage rate,
  10. mortgagee

Origin of mortar

before 1000; Middle English, Old English mortere and Old French mortier < Latin mortārium; (defs 3, 4) translation of French mortier < Latin, as above; see -ar2


[ mawr-ter ]
/ ˈmɔr tər /


a mixture of lime or cement or a combination of both with sand and water, used as a bonding agent between bricks, stones, etc.
any of various materials or compounds for bonding together bricks, stones, etc.: Bitumen was used as a mortar.

verb (used with object)

to plaster or fix with mortar.

Origin of mortar

1250–1300; Middle English morter < Anglo-French; Old French mortier mortar1, hence the mixture produced in it

Related formsmor·tar·less, adjectivemor·tar·y, adjective

Can be confusedcement concrete mortar Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mortar

British Dictionary definitions for mortar


/ (ˈmɔːtə) /


verb (tr)

Word Origin for mortar

C13: from Latin mortārium basin in which mortar is mixed; in some senses, via Old French mortier substance mixed inside such a vessel

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 mortar
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for mortar


[ môrtər ]


A vessel in which drugs or other substances are crushed or ground with a pestle.
A machine in which materials are ground and blended or crushed.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with mortar


see bricks and mortar.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.