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

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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 With his plans, his personnel picks, his experience and his humanity, Joe Biden can help lead the United States out of this morass and into the future. Caitlin Conant, CBS News, "Early in-person voting begins in Wisconsin," 20 Oct. 2020 Documentary filmmakers are creating new forms that pursue political progress through (and even despite) the morass of new media. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Sixty-two Films That Shaped the Art of Documentary Filmmaking," 14 Oct. 2020 Further appeals to the Vatican produced another morass of perjury and lies, but the senior clergy remained surprisingly unyielding. Caroline Moorehead, WSJ, "‘The Perfect Fascist’ Review: Mussolini’s Man," 2 Oct. 2020 In amongst that morass, though, there were still other movies shown, many of them popular with audiences and critics alike. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Why movie theaters are in trouble after DOJ nixes 70-year-old case," 11 Aug. 2020 The findings of the survey also suggest that perhaps the only way out of this morass is, not through government, but rather massive amounts of individual and corporate philanthropy. Michael Granberry, Dallas News, "Stunning new survey reveals almost $34 million in losses among 57 Dallas arts organizations — so far," 1 July 2020 Adding to the morass of weather information flowing from the agency are special weather statements and short-term forecasts. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin is alerted about weather with advisories, watches and warnings -- but do people know the differences, or care?," 30 June 2020 At its heart, the book is a plea for saner heads to rescue the Republican Party from its current morass. Benjamin C. Waterhouse, Washington Post, "Trump’s GOP: a “post-policy party”," 26 June 2020 Meteer went to file for state unemployment benefits and was quickly in a morass. Alec Macgillis, ProPublica, "How Germany Saved Its Workforce From Unemployment While Spending Less Per Person Than the U.S.," 3 June 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for morass

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The first known use of morass was in 1655

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Last Updated

25 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Morass.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2020.

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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

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