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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Mere

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r. (From Lat. merus, pure, unmixed; O. Fr. mier), an adjective primarily indicating something pure and unmixed; thus "mere wine" implied pure and unadulterated wine, as "mere folly" expressed folly pure and simple. Modern usage has, however, given both to the adjective "mere" and the adverb "merely" a deprecatory and disparaging idea, so that expressions like "the mere truth," a "mere statement of fact," &c., often convey the impression that they are far from being "mere" in the sense of "entire" or "absolute," but are, on the contrary, fragmentary and incomplete. The earlier idea of the word is retained in some legal phrases, especially in the phrase "mere motion," that is, of one's own initiative without help or suggestion from the outside. Another legal phrase is "mere right" (law Latin jus mecum), i.e. right without possession.

2. A word which appears in various forms in several Teutonic and other languages; cf. Dutch and Ger. Meer. From the cognate Lat. mare are derived the Romanic forms, e.g. Fr. mer, Span. mar, &c.; the word appears also in the derivative "marsh" for "marish"; the ultimate origin has been taken to be an IndoEuropean root, meaning "to die," i.e. to lie waste; cf. Sansk. maru, desert), an arm of the sea or estuary; also the name given to lakes, pools and shallow stretches of water inland. In the Fen countries a mere signifies a marsh or a district nearly always under water.

3. (Derived from an O. Eng. source, maere, a wall or boundary; cognate with Lat. mucus, a wall), a landmark or boundary, also an object indicating the extent of a property without actually enclosing it. A special meaning is that of a road, which forms a dividing line between two places. A "meresman" is an official appointed by parochial authorities to ascertain the exact boundaries of a parish and to report upon the condition of the roads, bridges, waterways, &c., within them. In the mining districts of Derbyshire a mere is a certain measurement of land in which lead-ore is found.

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Mere'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/m/mere.html. 1910.

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