mor·​tise | \ ˈmȯr-təs How to pronounce mortise (audio) \
variants: or less commonly mortice

Definition of mortise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a hole, groove, or slot into or through which some other part of an arrangement of parts fits or passes especially : a cavity cut into a piece of material (such as timber) to receive a tenon — see dovetail illustration


variants: or less commonly mortice
mortised also morticed; mortising also morticing

Definition of mortise (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to join or fasten securely specifically : to join or fasten by a tenon and mortise
2 : to cut or make a mortise in

Examples of mortise in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Kreg Pocket Screw Jig There will be plenty of time later to learn how to cut complex woodworking joints like mortise and tenons and dovetails. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "18 Essential Tools For Your First Woodshop," 15 Oct. 2019 The thick perimeter pieces and crosspieces were joined with interlocking mortise and tenon joints. Washington Post, "This is what happens when someone slaps veneer on a century-old wood door," 17 June 2019 For example, the notch for a hinge (called a hinge mortise) may have been cut a little too deeply. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "Need To Know: The Life-Changing Power of Shims," 9 Nov. 2018 The IglooHome smart mortise lock combines those with a keypad and lever, and comes with hotel-like access fobs for those who don’t want to use the app. Joshua Fruhlinger, WSJ, "Is It Smart to Install a Smart Lock?," 11 July 2018 The structure was built using mortise and tenon, with pegs for extra strength-- a technique lost in the following century. Adele Foster,, "Mandeville Bible Church, established in 1876, breathes history on Carroll Street," 16 July 2017 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It is mortised throughout and the home's joints were set in white lead. Alice Adams, Houston Chronicle, "The Menard house is one of Galveston’s oldest structures," 20 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'mortise.' 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 mortise


15th century, in the meaning defined above


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mortise


Middle English mortays, from Anglo-French mortais

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Time Traveler for mortise

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The first known use of mortise was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Mortise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for mortise


How to pronounce mortise (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mortise

technical : a hole that is cut in a piece of wood or other material so that another piece (called a tenon) will fit into it to form a connection

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mortise

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