Definition of morass
- a legal morass
- a morass of traffic jams
- —Mary Roach
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP
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
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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.
: an area of soft, wet ground : a marsh or swamp
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