November 18, 2013
morass (noun)
\muh-RASS\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : marsh, swamp2 : something that traps, confuses, or impedes
How do you use it?
Olivia's parents tried to get out of the morass the discussion about curfews had become, but they couldn't convince their teenage daughter to stop arguing with them.
Are you a word wiz?

We won't swamp you with details -- from what language do you think English speakers borrowed "morass"?

Are you stuck? We'll tell you the right answer: it's D! "Morass" comes from the Dutch noun "moeras," meaning "marsh." ("Moeras" comes from "maresc," Old French for "marsh.") English speakers of the 17th century borrowed the Dutch word as "morass" and also used it to mean "marsh" or "swamp." It's easy to get stuck in the mud and muck of a morass, and from this idea came the word's figurative sense. By the 19th century, "morass" was being used not only to refer to a literal swamp but also to any situation that is difficult to get out of or hard to understand.
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