morass

noun
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

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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 But Trump's behavior doesn't explain the morass the FDA created over testing. Ezra Klein New York Times, Star Tribune, "Is government too timid in the way it fights COVID-19?," 1 Apr. 2021 Since the vessel is owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, flagged in Panama and now stuck in Egypt, matters quickly become an international morass. Samy Magdy And Jon Gambrell, Chron, "With ship now freed, a probe into Suez Canal blockage begins," 30 Mar. 2021 Since the vessel is owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, flagged in Panama and now stuck in Egypt, matters quickly become an international morass. Jon Gambrell, Anchorage Daily News, "With massive ship now freed, investigation of Suez Canal blockage accelerates," 30 Mar. 2021 Since the vessel is owned by a Japanese firm, operated by a Taiwanese shipper, flagged in Panama and now stuck in Egypt, matters quickly become an international morass. BostonGlobe.com, "With container ship now freed, investigation into Suez Canal blockage begins," 30 Mar. 2021 The aftermath of the emotionally intensive interview has illustrated the morass of race issues at play in our increasingly mixed but decidedly not-post-racial world. Ishena Robinson, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and the Prevalence of Colorism in a Non-Post-Racial World," 22 Mar. 2021 The military’s entire approach to toxic exposure is a morass that leaves ill soldiers and veterans like Thompson trying to navigate a bureaucracy more labyrinthine than the Pentagon’s corridors. Michael Mcauliff | Kaiser Health News, ABC News, "Jet fuel was in the vet’s lung but he can’t get full benefits," 21 Mar. 2021 Most of the responsibility for preventing Japan from returning to the morass of nominal stagnation therefore belongs to politicians. Mike Bird, WSJ, "Japan Risks Resuming Global Economic Irrelevance," 9 Mar. 2021 Lin Bao's new job, as the deputy commander for naval operations to the Central Military Commission, was a bureaucratic morass. Elliot Ackerman, Wired, "2034, Part IV: The Spratly Islands Ambush," 16 Feb. 2021

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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Last Updated

5 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Morass.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/morass. Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for morass

morass

noun

English Language Learners Definition of morass

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

morass

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

Kids Definition of morass

More from Merriam-Webster on morass

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for morass

Nglish: Translation of morass for Spanish Speakers

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