- mail[mail 词源字典]
- mail: English has two extant words mail. The one meaning ‘post’  goes back via Old French to Old High German malha, which meant ‘bag, pouch’. That indeed was what the word originally denoted in English (and modern French malle is still used for a ‘bag’). It was not until the 17th century that a specific application to a ‘bag for carrying letters’ emerged, and this was followed in the next century by the ‘letters, etc so carried’. Mail ‘chain-armour’  comes via Old French maille ‘mesh’ from Latin macula, which originally meant ‘spot, stain’ (hence English immaculate , etymologically ‘spotless’), but was transferred to the ‘holes in a net’, from their appearance of being spots or marks.
The word maquis, made familiar in English during World War II as a term for the French resistance forces, means literally ‘scrub, undergrowth’ in French. It was borrowed from Italian macchia, a descendant of Latin macula, whose literal sense ‘spot’ was applied metaphorically to ‘bushes dotted over a hillside’. English once had a third word mail, meaning ‘payment, tax’ .
It was borrowed from Old Norse mál ‘speech, agreement’. It now survives only in blackmail .
=> immaculate, maquis[mail etymology, mail origin, 英语词源]
- maim:  Maim and mayhem  are ultimately the same word. Both go back to a Vulgar Latin verb *mahagnāre ‘wound’, whose origins are unknown. This passed into Old French as mahaignier (whose probable Anglo-Norman derivative *mahangler was the source of English mangle ‘mutilate’ ). Mahaignier became mayner, and passed into Middle English as mayn.
But it also had a noun derivative, mahaing or main, which in due course became mayhem. This seems to have been borrowed into English twice. First, in the 14th century, as maheym or maim ‘severe injury’; this has now died out, but has left its mark on the verb, which it has changed from mayn to maim. And second, in the 15th century, via Anglo-Norman, as mayhem.
- main: [OE] Main goes back to prehistoric Germanic *mag- ‘be able, have power’ (source also of English may and might, and distantly related to machine). From it was descended Old English mægen ‘strength’. This now survives as a noun only in the expression with might and main, but it was also used attributively in Old English to mean ‘of large size, great’, and by the 13th century (helped along partly by the related Old Norse megenn or megn ‘strong’) it was being used as an adjective in its own right. At first it still meant just ‘large’, but by the 15th century its modern sense ‘chief’ had evolved.
=> may, might
- maintain:  Etymologically, maintain means ‘hold in the hand’. It comes via Old French maintenir from Vulgar Latin *manūtenēre ‘support’, a compound verb formed from manū, the ablative case of manus ‘hand’, and tenēre ‘hold’. The derivative maintenance  comes from Old French.
=> maintenance, manual, tenant
- maisonette: see manor
- major:  Latin mājor ‘larger’ was the comparative form of magnus ‘large’, from which English gets magnitude, magnum etc (in early Latin it was *māgjōs). English originally acquired it as an adjective. Its noun use, for an army officer, followed in the 17th century. This represented a borrowing from French major, which was short for sergeant-major (in those days, ‘sergeant major’ was a more elevated rank than it is today). The derivative majority  comes via French majorité from medieval Latin mājōritās. Mayor comes from Latin mājor, routed via Old French.
=> magnitude, magnum, mayor
- make: [OE] Make probably goes back ultimately to an Indo-European base *mag- denoting ‘kneading’ (also the source of Greek mágma ‘salve made by kneading’, from which English gets magma ). A prehistoric Germanic descendant was *mako- (source of English match ‘go together’). From this was derived the West Germanic verb *makōjan, which over the centuries differentiated into German machen, Dutch maken, and English make. Make was not a particularly common verb in Old English (gewyrcan, ancestor of modern English work, was the most usual way of expressing the notion ‘make’), but in the Middle English period its use proliferated.
=> magma, match
- makeshift: see shift
- malachite: see mauve
- malady: see malign
- malaise: see malign
- malapropism:  English owes the word malapropism to Mrs Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan’s play The Rivals 1775 whose grandiloquent impulses led her to use slightly (but ludicrously) the wrong word: amongst the most familiar of her errors are ‘contagious countries’ (for contiguous), ‘a supercilious knowledge in accounts’ (for superficial), and ‘as head-strong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile’. Sheridan based the name on malapropos ‘inappropriate’ , an anglicization of French mal à propos, literally ‘badly to the purpose’ (on mal, see MALIGN).
=> malign, propose
- malaria:  The original English term for an ‘attack of malarial fever’ was ague. The word malaria did not come on the scene until the mid- 18th century. It was borrowed from Italian mal’aria, a conflation of mala aria, literally ‘bad air’. This was an allusion to the former belief that malaria was caused by foul air, and particularly by vapours given off by swamps.
=> air, malign
- male:  The Latin word for ‘male’ was masculus (from which of course English gets masculine ). It passed into Old French as masle, which later became male – hence English male. The Spanish descendant of masculus is macho, which means ‘virile’ as well as simply ‘male’, and has given English macho  and the derivative machismo . Another close relative is probably mallard, which seems to mean etymologically ‘male bird’. Female, incidentally, despite its similarity, is not etymologically related to male, although the two have converged formally owing to their semantic closeness.
=> macho, mallard, masculine
- malic: see pomegranate
- malign:  Malign comes, probably via Old French, from Latin malignus ‘wicked’. This was derived from malus ‘bad’, a word of unknown origin (some have tried to link it with English small). Malus is of course the starting point for a wide range of other English words, including malady  (ultimately from Vulgar Latin *male habitus ‘in bad condition’); malaise  (which originated in Old French as a conflation of mal aise ‘bad ease’); malapropism; malaria; malediction  (etymologically ‘evil saying’); malevolent  (literally ‘wishing evil’); malice  (from Latin malitia, a derivative of malus); and malingerer  (from French malingre, which may have been a compound of mal- and haingre ‘weak’). Malignant  comes from the present participle of Latin malignāre ‘act with malice’, a verb derived from malignus.
=> malady, malaise, malaria, malignant, malingerer
- mall: see mallet
- mallard:  Etymologically, a mallard seems to be a ‘male bird’. It comes from Old French mallart, which was probably a development of an earlier *maslart, a derivative of masle ‘male’ (source of English male). It was originally used for the ‘male of the wild duck’, but now it denotes either sex of the species (Anas platyrhynchos).
- mallet:  Latin malleus meant ‘hammer’ (it may be related to Latin molere ‘grind’, and to Russian mólot and Polish młot ‘hammer’). It passed into Old French as mail, of which the derivative maillet eventually reached English as mallet. Mail itself was borrowed into English as maul ‘hammer’ , but it now survives only as a verb (which originally meant ‘hit with a hammer’).
The Latin verb derived from malleus was malleāre ‘hit with a hammer’, from which ultimately English gets malleable . And the Italian descendant of malleus, maglio, was combined with a word for ‘ball’, palla, to form the name of a croquet-like game, pallamaglio; via French this passed into English as pall-mall , remembered in the London street-names Pall Mall and The Mall (whence the use of mall  for a ‘walkway’ or ‘promenade’, and latterly for a ‘shopping precinct’).
=> mall, malleable, maul, pall-mall
- malt: [OE] Malt goes back to prehistoric Germanic *malt-, a variant of which produced English melt. Hence it seems to denote etymologically the ‘softening’ of the barley or other grain by steeping it in water preparatory to germinating it for use in brewing (German malz means ‘soft’ as well as ‘malt’).