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 The use of long mortise-and-tenon joints and a developed internal structure point toward the Classical time period. Joshua Hawkins, BGR, 20 July 2022 For a long time, there weren't any smart mortise-style locks. Dan Diclerico, Good Housekeeping, 10 May 2022 Cut a shallow sloping notch around the perimeter, then finish the hinge mortise by paring as shown [5]. Thomas Klenck, Popular Mechanics, 14 Aug. 2021 Its builders used mortise-and-tenon joints and constructed the vessel partly out of reused wood, suggesting that it was made in Egypt. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 July 2021 Barnes attaches the slabs to the ends with a fastener-free mortise and tenon. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, 24 Apr. 2021 Drill a relief hole in a corner, then cut out the mortise using a jigsaw [3]. Ted Kilcommons, Popular Mechanics, 12 June 2021 Here the standard types of joint, such as mortise and tenon, tongue and groove, and dovetail, are developed with ingenious intricacy. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, 20 Apr. 2021 Instead, posts and beams were fitted together with mortise and tenon joints. John Kelly, Washington Post, 28 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb It is mortised throughout and the home's joints were set in white lead. Alice Adams, Houston Chronicle, 20 Sep. 2019 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near mortise



mortise gage

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Statistics for mortise

Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Mortise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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