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mused; musing

intransitive verb

: to become absorbed in thought
especially : to think about something carefully and thoroughly
musing about what might have been
archaic : wonder, marvel

transitive verb

: to think or say (something) in a thoughtful way
"I could sell the house," she mused, "but where would I go?"
muser noun


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noun (1)

: a state of deep thought or dreamy abstraction
thrown into a muse by the book she was reading


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noun (2)

capitalized : any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences
Clio is the Greek Muse of history.
: a source of inspiration
especially : a guiding genius
The writer's beloved wife was his muse.
: poet

Did you know?

Muse on this: the word muse comes from the Anglo-French muser, meaning “to gape, to idle, to muse.” (Amuse has the same source.) The image evoked is one of a thinker so absorbed in thought as to be unconsciously open-mouthed. Those who muse on their pets’ musings might like to know that muser is ultimately from Latin musus, meaning “mouth of an animal”—also source of the word muzzle. The sister goddesses of Greek mythology known as the Muses have no etymological link: that word, which in lowercase refers to a source of inspiration, comes from Greek Mousa. The ultimate Greek origin of the word museum translates as “of the Muses.”

Choose the Right Synonym for muse

ponder, meditate, muse, ruminate mean to consider or examine attentively or deliberately.

ponder implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter.

pondered the course of action

meditate implies a definite focusing of one's thoughts on something so as to understand it deeply.

meditated on the meaning of life

muse suggests a more or less focused daydreaming as in remembrance.

mused upon childhood joys

ruminate implies going over the same matter in one's thoughts again and again but suggests little of either purposive thinking or rapt absorption.

ruminated on past disappointments

Example Sentences

Verb I could sell the house, she mused, but then where would I go?
Recent Examples on the Web
Taylor Lautner is looking out for fellow Speak Now muse John Mayer as Swifties count down the days to Speak Now (Taylor's Version's) release. Daniela Avila, Peoplemag, 17 May 2023 Romance quickly sparks between Kira and Sonny, thanks to the scheming of Clio’s sibling muses Calliope and Melpomeme (played with exuberance by Wendy Waddell and Taylor Henderson, respectively). Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May 2023 Chanel ambassador and former Lagerfeld muse K-Stew was always going to attend this gala. Vulture, 1 May 2023 Nail Files is a new series in which Vogue asks creators and enthusiasts to muse on their love of the manicure, from favorite designs to must-follow artists and salons. Michella Oré, Vogue, 1 Dec. 2021 Something, Walker mused, must have guided that process even before Darwinian selection took over. Philip Ball, Quanta Magazine, 4 May 2023 Perhaps even Swift — who has built a real estate empire worth north of $150 million, according to the Wall Street Journal — might stumble across the clip and be convinced to buy a property in Tampa with her, Pankop mused. Shannon Larson,, 25 Apr. 2023 By way of introduction, Rothman mused about how the 85-year-old Scott — the éminence grise director behind an eclectic filmography of epochal titles including Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma & Louise, Gladiator, and Black Hawk Down — has long been denied the top industry accolade. Chris Lee, Vulture, 25 Apr. 2023 Prior to Beau Biden's death from cancer in 2015, the president mused about traveling to Ireland with his sons. Ryan King, Washington Examiner, 17 Apr. 2023
By the end, Zeus, the Cyclops, Medusa and a Centaur are all harmonizing with the muses as the love story winds to its inevitable upbeat conclusion. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 14 May 2023 And both are still pursuing the muse that united them as teens. IndyStar, 28 Apr. 2023 Egidio’s sister Dina was one of the great muses that inspired Escalona for his songs. Isabela Raygoza, Billboard, 19 Apr. 2023 Fennell’s work, much of it bespoke, draws inspiration from many things—churches, theatre, architecture, books, music, people and nature—but his hometown may be his most important muse. Victoria Gomelsky, Robb Report, 7 Apr. 2023 Price at time of publish: $195 Best Shirt Ines de la Fressange Sheer Cotton Relaxed Long Sleeve Shirt View On Designed by a French model and muse, this classic shirt is a great piece to have in your arsenal. Amy Louise Bailey, Travel + Leisure, 27 Mar. 2023 The model—who made her runway debut in 2017 and has since become a Fashion Week regular and a Celine muse, and has starred in major brand campaigns around the world—addressed the root of her industry success in a new interview for ELLE. Rosa Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 24 Jan. 2023 Down the beach, Saint Laurent celebrates its beachfront gallery exhibition curated by creative director Anthony Vaccarello and his longtime muse, Madonna. Taylor Stoddard, ELLE, 5 May 2023 Lipa’s knitted corset gown was originally modeled by Lagerfeld’s longtime muse, Claudia Schiffer, during the Chanel couture fall/winter 1992 show. Rania Aniftos, Billboard, 1 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'muse.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun (1)

Middle English, from Anglo-French muser to gape, idle, muse, from Old French *mus mouth of an animal, from Medieval Latin musus

Noun (2)

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin Musa, from Greek Mousa

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of muse was in the 14th century


Dictionary Entries Near muse

Cite this Entry

“Muse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
mused; musing
: ponder


2 of 2 noun
capitalized : any of the nine sister goddesses of song and poetry and the arts and sciences in Greek mythology
: a source of inspiration


Middle English musen "to ponder," from early French muser "to gape, muse," Latin musus "mouth of an animal"


Middle English Muse "one of the nine goddesses of the arts," from early French Muse (same meaning), from Latin Musa (same meaning), from Greek Mousa "Muse"

More from Merriam-Webster on muse

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