Definition of mawkish
- a mawkish love story
- mawkish poetry
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a mawkish plea for donations to the charity
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The etymology of mawkish really opens up a can of worms-or, more properly, maggots. The mawk of mawkish derives from Middle English mawke, which means "maggot." Mawke, in its turn, developed from the Old Norse word mathkr, which had the same meaning as its descendant. Although mawkish literally means "maggoty," since at least the 17th century English speakers have eschewed its decaying carcass implications and used it figuratively instead. As one language writer put it, "Time has treated 'mawkish' gently: the wormy stench and corruption of its primal state were forgotten and 'mawkish' became sickly in a weak sort of way instead of repulsive and revolting."
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