mo·​rass | \ mə-ˈras How to pronounce morass (audio) , mȯ- \

Definition of morass

1 : marsh, swamp
2a : a situation that traps, confuses, or impedes a legal morass
b : an overwhelming or confusing mass or mixture a morass of traffic jams— Mary Roach

Other Words from morass

morassy \ mə-​ˈra-​sē How to pronounce morass (audio) , mȯ-​ \ adjective

The Swampy History of Morass

We won't swamp you with details: morass comes from the Dutch word moeras, which itself derives from an Old French word, maresc, meaning "marsh." Morass has been part of English for centuries, and in its earliest uses it was a synonym of swamp or marsh. (That was the sense Robert Louis Stevenson used when he described Long John Silver emerging from "a low white vapour that had crawled during the night out of the morass" in Treasure Island.) Imagine walking through a thick, muddy swamp—it's easy to compare such slogging to trying to disentangle yourself from a sticky situation. By the mid-19th century, morass had gained a figurative sense, and could refer to any predicament that was as murky, confusing, or difficult to navigate as a literal swamp or quagmire.

Examples of morass in a Sentence

advised against becoming involved in that country's civil war, warning that escape from that morass might prove nigh impossible the distracted driver had driven his car off the road and into a morass
Recent Examples on the Web The way out of this morass is unclear, but McArthur argues that tech companies are just responding to the environment, so a broader societal shift will be required. Sam Lipsyte, Harper’s Magazine , 27 Apr. 2022 This chant has risen ceaselessly over the past many weeks from the depths of fury raging in Sri Lanka, a country deep in an economic morass. Quartz, 4 May 2022 The Father—lost in the morass of his own mind, always falling through trap doors to alternate realities. Judy Berman, Time, 11 Mar. 2022 Howard, the Financial Planner, devotes hours to guiding my father through the monetary morass of buying, selling, and moving. Longreads, 20 Apr. 2022 All the while, questions are mounting about how a Russian leader steeped in security policy and known for railing against the folly of regime-change wars could have sleepwalked into a such a strategic morass. Washington Post, 11 Apr. 2022 The Democrats say their $46.5 billion spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1 is designed to address both of those issues while continuing to dig out from the state’s longtime fiscal morass. Clare Spaulding,, 9 Apr. 2022 The prospect of having to downsize or even just organize one’s own archive of photos, emails, or files—the morass of data that slowly, haphazardly grows into a digital imprint of one’s life—is daunting. Drew Austin, Wired, 16 Mar. 2022 Soon, Williams found herself in a high-cost loan morass that was almost impossible to climb out of. Gretchen Morgenson, NBC News, 11 Jan. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'morass.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of morass

1655, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for morass

Dutch moeras, modification of Old French maresc, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English mersc marsh — more at marsh

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Morass.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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mo·​rass | \ mə-ˈras How to pronounce morass (audio) \

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Nglish: Translation of morass for Spanish Speakers


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