from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A usually rectangular cavity in a piece of wood, stone, or other material, prepared to receive a tenon and thus form a joint.
  • n. Printing A hole cut in a plate for insertion of type.
  • transitive v. To join or fasten securely, as with a mortise and tenon.
  • transitive v. To make a mortise in.
  • transitive v. Printing To cut a hole in (a plate) for the insertion of type.
  • transitive v. Printing To cut such a hole and insert (type).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A hole that is made to receive a tenon so as to form a joint
  • v. To make a mortise.
  • v. To adjust the horizontal space between selected pairs of letters; to kern.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A cavity cut into a piece of timber, or other material, to receive something (as the end of another piece) made to fit it, and called a tenon.
  • transitive v. To cut or make a mortise in.
  • transitive v. To join or fasten by a tenon and mortise.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To join by a tenon and mortise; fix in or as in a mortise.
  • To cut or make a mortise in.
  • n. A hollow cut in a piece of wood or other material to receive a corresponding projection, called a tenon, formed on another piece in order to fix the two together.
  • n. Figuratively, stability; power of adhesion.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. cut a hole for a tenon in
  • n. a square hole made to receive a tenon and so to form a joint
  • v. join by a tenon and mortise


Middle English mortaise, from Old French, perhaps from Arabic murtazz, fastened, from irtazza, to be fixed (in place), derived stem of razza, to fix, insert; see rzz in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested circa fourteenth century, from Old French mortaise, of uncertain origin. (Wiktionary)


  • The mortise is the rectangular hole cut to receive the tenon and is made slightly deeper than the tenon is long.

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  • The tenon here is narrow and engages the mortise, which is situated in the compressional fibres immediately adjoining the neutral layer.

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  • In the construction of mission furniture where mortise joints are mostly used, those who cannot have access to a mortising machine will find the following method of great assistance in obtaining a true mortise, which is necessary in work of this kind.

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  • The mortise is the cavity hollowed to fit the tenon, which is the end of the interlocking beam, shaped to fit smoothly into the mortise.

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  • He never got calls during dinner from frazzled friends having trouble with mortise and tenon joinery, plus David seemed like a nice enough guy.

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  • I can cut it to rough shape with a steel blade, form it with a router, chop a mortise or cleave a tenon.

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  • When men lose this capacity to mortise and tenon with wood, we're kind of left with nothing to do, like those big drone bees that get kicked out of the hive.

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  • At the edge of one stack of timber is a squared piece of wood with a hand-cut mortise and tenon, the traditional joint used in many Japanese buildings.

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  • With their unique design this sleek chair is available in a variety of domestic and exotic hardwoods, and features double tapered laminations, and mortise and tenon joinery.

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  • The orbital movements jerked through its length, as if to remind me that it was still alive past rigor mortise, vicariously through his fellow squirrels.

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