• synonyms


noun, verb (used with object), mor·ticed, mor·tic·ing.
  1. mortise.
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or mor·tice

  1. a notch, hole, groove, or slot made in a piece of wood or the like to receive a tenon of the same dimensions.
  2. a deep recess cut into wood for any of several other purposes, as for receiving a mortise lock.
  3. Printing. a space cut out of a plate, especially for the insertion of type or another plate.
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verb (used with object), mor·tised, mor·tis·ing.
  1. to secure with a mortise and tenon.
  2. to cut or form a mortise in (a piece of wood or the like).
  3. to join securely.
  4. Printing.
    1. to cut metal from (a plate).
    2. to cut out metal from a plate and insert (new material) in its place.
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Origin of mortise

1350–1400; Middle English morteys, mortaise < Anglo-French mortais(e), Old French mortoise, of obscure origin
Related formsmor·tis·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mortice

Historical Examples of mortice

  • In cutting the mortice, first fasten the piece so that it will rest solid on the bench.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • At the top it is tenoned, to be inserted into the mortice of the ivory head (qatirn).

  • To lock the tenon in the mortice two methods may be employed.

  • The lock shot into a mortice, so that there was no possibility of her pushing back the bolt.

    Desperate Remedies

    Thomas Hardy

  • The tenon and mortice are joggled, or dove-tailed together in the casting operation, so as to make them hold fast.

British Dictionary definitions for mortice



  1. 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
  2. printing a cavity cut into a letterpress printing plate into which type or another plate is inserted
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verb (tr)
  1. to cut a slot or recess in (a piece of wood, stone, etc)
  2. to join (two pieces of wood, stone, etc) by means of a mortise and tenon
  3. to cut a cavity in (a letterpress printing plate) for the insertion of type, etc
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Derived Formsmortiser, noun

Word Origin for mortise

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

Word Origin and History for mortice



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.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper