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  1. the flesh of sheep, especially full-grown or more mature sheep, used as food.
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Origin of mutton1

1250–1300; Middle English moton sheep < Old French < Celtic; compare MIr molt, Welsh mollt, Breton maout wether
Related formsmut·ton·y, adjective


noun Printing.
  1. em(def 2).
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Origin of mutton2

1935–40; code term, coined to differentiate the pronunciation of em quad from en quad
Also called mut.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for mutton


  1. the flesh of sheep, esp of mature sheep, used as food
  2. mutton dressed as lamb an older woman dressed up to look young
  3. printing another word for em (def. 1) Compare nut (def. 12)
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Derived Formsmuttony, adjective

Word Origin

C13 moton sheep, from Old French, from Medieval Latin multō, of Celtic origin; the term was adopted in printing to distinguish the pronunciation of em quad from en quad
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 mutton


"flesh of sheep used as food," late 13c., from Old French moton "mutton; ram, wether, sheep" (12c., Modern French mouton), from Medieval Latin multonem (8c.), probably from Gallo-Romance *multo-s, accusative of Celtic *multo "sheep" (cf. Old Irish molt "wether," Mid-Breton mout, Welsh mollt); the same word also was borrowed into Italian as montone "a sheep." Transferred slang sense of "food for lust, loose women, prostitutes" (1510s) led to extensive British slang uses down to the present day for woman variously regarded as seeking lovers or as lust objects. Mutton chop is from 1720; as a style of side whiskers, from 1865.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper