Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Etymology of Inspector Morse

In season 1 episode 3 ('Service Of All The Dead') of Inspector Morse, the principal of the school in which Lionel Lawson studied, remarks that Morse is a very Oxford name, and the etymology is the same as the French word 'Maurice' which means 'swarthy' or dark. While the etymology of Maurice seems to be correct according to Wiktionary -- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Maurice, the etymology of 'morse' seems to be different according to Wiktionary -- https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/morse.

While Maurice is from late Latin Mauricius, derived from Maurus (“Moor; dark, swarthy”), popularised by a 3rd-century Roman soldier martyr, Morse seems to be from middle French 'mors', from Latin morsus (“bite; clasp”), from mordere (“to bite”), such as morse (plural morses), a clasp or fastening used to fasten a cope in the front, usually decorative; or such as Russian морж (morž, “walrus”), Sami morša, Finnish mursu (all attested later), such as morse (plural morses), (now rare) a walrus.

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