or mor·tice



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), mor·tised, mor·tis·ing.

Origin of mortise

1350–1400; Middle English morteys, mortaise < Anglo-French mortais(e), Old French mortoise, of obscure origin
Related formsmor·tis·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mortise

Historical Examples of mortise

  • Mortise, a hollow in a stone or timber to receive a corresponding projection.


    Thomas Roger Smith

  • The marks a, b designate the limits, or the length, of the mortise.

  • A typical form of mallet chiseling is the digging of a mortise, Fig. 76.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • Fasten the lock in place, and if there is a strike or face-plate, mark its place and mortise it in.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • The width of the mortise is equal to the width of the groove, its length to the width of the tenon.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

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 (tr)

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 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 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