1. A vessel in which substances are crushed or ground with a pestle.
2. A machine in which materials are ground and blended or crushed.
a. A portable, usually muzzleloading cannon used to fire shells at low velocities, short ranges, and high trajectories.
b. A shell fired by such a cannon.
c. Any of several similar devices, such as one that shoots life lines across a stretch of water.
d. A short, usually stationary, muzzleloading cannon used from the 1700s to early 1900s to fire large round shells at low velocities, short ranges, and high trajectories.
4. Any of various bonding materials used in masonry, surfacing, and plastering, especially a mixture of cement or lime, sand, and water that hardens in place and is used to bind together bricks or stones.
tr.v. mor·tared, mor·tar·ing, mor·tars
1. To bombard with mortar shells.
2. To plaster or join with mortar.
[Middle English morter, from Old English mortere and from Old French mortier, both from Latin mortārium; see mer- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
(click for a larger image)mortar
mortar (background) and pestle (foreground)
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 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.