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

Definition of morass

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from morass

morassy \ mə-​ˈra-​sē How to pronounce morassy (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 alternatives being proposed may be worse — because the size of the bailouts may be too small and come too late, and because the politics of targeted bailouts at specific industries and businesses would create a morass of anger and distrust. Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, "This Is the Only Way to End the Coronavirus Financial Panic," 18 Mar. 2020 The incident The incident that spurred this morass occurred on June 11 last year, according to McMann and several documents reviewed by IndyStar. Kaitlin Lange, Indianapolis Star, "A state employee said her boss hit her. She complained. Then she lost her job.," 5 Feb. 2020 Stepping into the morass, Cove knew that expelling cats from the refuge would require buy-in from ORCAT. Carrie Arnold, Scientific American, "Can We Save the Woodrat without Slaughtering Cats?," 29 Mar. 2020 Monsoon rains turned Okinawa into a morass of ankle-deep mud, and foxholes and trenches were filled with water. oregonlive, "Veterans Day 2019: Remembering Oregon’s 96th Infantry Division," 10 Nov. 2019 The pursuit of Xerox plunged the company into a two-year morass. Washington Post, "Xerox Gives Fujifilm the Clean Break It Needs," 5 Nov. 2019 Birds of Prey feels like an emancipation most from that sorry chapter of the DC universe, its candy-shell exterior and subversive sense of humor standing in impressive contrast to the dour, incoherent morass of Ayer's film. Isaac Feldberg, Fortune, "What to watch (and skip) in theaters and on Netflix this weekend," 7 Feb. 2020 Yet his key contribution to our nation was having the knowledge, temperament and leadership to get us out of an economic morass. Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Paul Volcker — the right man for his times," 15 Dec. 2019 The board also enacted a new quick-build process that allows the directors to greenlight a list of projects at once, cutting through the bureaucratic morass. Rachel Swan,, "To speed up buses, SF cut parking on San Bruno Ave. Welcome to the city’s future," 19 Dec. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about morass

Time Traveler for morass

Time Traveler

The first known use of morass was in 1655

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about morass

Statistics for morass

Last Updated

12 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Morass.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for morass


How to pronounce morass (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of morass

: an area of soft, wet ground : a marsh or swamp


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

Kids Definition of morass

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on morass

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for morass

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with morass

Spanish Central: Translation of morass

Nglish: Translation of morass for Spanish Speakers

Comments on morass

What made you want to look up morass? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Obscure Shapes

  • a pile of three dimensional shapes in green
  • Something that is ooid is shaped like:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!