[maws, mos]
See more synonyms for moss on
  1. any tiny, leafy-stemmed, flowerless plant of the class Musci, reproducing by spores and growing in tufts, sods, or mats on moist ground, tree trunks, rocks, etc.
  2. a growth of such plants.
  3. any of various similar plants, as Iceland moss or club moss.
  4. Chiefly Scot. and North England. a swamp or bog.
verb (used with object)
  1. to cover with a growth of moss: to moss a crumbling wall.

Origin of moss

before 1000; Middle English mos(se), Old English mos moss, bog; akin to German Moos, Old Norse mȳrr mire
Related formsmoss·like, adjectiveun·mossed, adjective


[maws, mos]
  1. Howard,1922–1987, U.S. poet, editor, and playwright. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for moss

swamp, morass, bog, lichen

Examples from the Web for moss

Contemporary Examples of moss

Historical Examples of moss

  • Then the snowdrop sang a lullaby about the moss that loved the violet.

  • He had on a pair of moss trousers, and his coat was a yellow gorse flower.

    Welsh Fairy Tales

    William Elliott Griffis

  • The unknown, lurking in the midst of the sticks and moss, was savagely clutching him by the nose.

    White Fang

    Jack London

  • In summer there was nothing to exercise the mind of Mr. Moss.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

  • Mr. Moss was disentangling the crick in his back for the last time that day.

    The Law-Breakers

    Ridgwell Cullum

British Dictionary definitions for moss


  1. any bryophyte of the phylum Bryophyta, typically growing in dense mats on trees, rocks, moist ground, etcSee also peat moss
  2. a clump or growth of any of these plants
  3. any of various similar but unrelated plants, such as club moss, Spanish moss, Ceylon moss, rose moss, and reindeer moss
  4. Scot and Northern English a peat bog or marsh
Derived Formsmosslike, adjectivemossy, adjectivemossiness, noun

Word Origin for moss

Old English mos swamp; compare Middle Dutch, Old High German mos bog, Old Norse mosi; compare also Old Norse mӯrr mire


  1. Kate . born 1974, British supermodel.
  2. Sir Stirling. born 1929, English racing driver
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 moss

Old English meos "moss," related to mos "bog," from Proto-Germanic *musan (cf. Old High German mios, Danish mos, German Moos), also in part from Old Norse mosi "moss, bog," and Medieval Latin mossa "moss," from the same Germanic source, from PIE *meus- "damp," with derivatives referring to swamps and swamp vegetation (cf. Latin muscus "moss," Lithuanian musai "mold, mildew," Old Church Slavonic muchu "moss").

Selden Moseþ þe Marbelston þat men ofte treden. ["Piers Plowman," 1362]

All the Germanic languages have the word in both senses, which is natural because moss is the characteristic plant of boggy places. It is impossible to say which sense is original. Scott (1805) revived 17c. moss-trooper "freebooter infesting Scottish border marshes."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

moss in Science


  1. Any of various green, usually small nonvascular plants of the division Bryophyta. Mosses, unlike liverworts, have some tissues specialized for conducting water and nutrients. As in the other bryophytes, the diploid sporophyte grows on the haploid gametophyte generation, which supplies it with nutrients. Mosses often live in moist, shady areas and grow in clusters or mats. Sphagnum mosses play a crucial role in the ecology of peat bogs. See more at bryophyte.
  2. Any of a number of plants that look like mosses but are not related to them. For instance, reindeer moss is a lichen, Irish moss is an alga, and Spanish moss is a bromeliad, a flowering plant.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with moss


see rolling stone gathers no moss.

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