1. A perennial Mediterranean plant (Origanum majorana) in the mint family, having small, purplish to white flowers and opposite leaves. Also called sweet marjoram.
2. The leaves of this plant used as a seasoning.
[Early Modern English margeram, alteration (influenced by Middle French marjolaine) of Middle English majorane, mageram, from Old French majorane, from Medieval Latin maiorana, alteration (influenced by māior, greater) of Late Latin mezurana, perhaps of Near Eastern origin; akin to Persian marzangōš, from Middle Persian, perhaps alteration (influenced by marzān, mouse, and gōš, ear, in reference to the shape of the plant's small pilose leaves) of earlier *mardgōš (source of Arabic mardaqūš), perhaps ultimately from a Near Eastern areal word that was also the source of Greek amārakon and ancient Macedonian abarú.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.