Morris

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The word Morris has several different applications and meanings, some of which may become confused.

  • As a common noun, morris may refer to
    • morris dancing, a form of folk dance unique to England (and anglophone nations). The adjective morris here appears to be a decayed form of 'moorish'.
    • Nine Men's Morris, a board game played with nine pieces. These were originally known as merels, from an old French word meaning 'counter', and the decay of this word may have given rise to the 'Morris' of the title.
    • A morris was an old name for the young, in the larval stage of the conger eel, known in English as the 'Anglesey morris', and at one time mistakenly identified as the separate species Leptocephalus morrisii.
  • As a proper noun. with some related adjectives, Morris can be either
    • a forename, in which case it is normally a variant of Maurice, spelled phonetically for the English language, or a similar re-spelling of some of the versions in other languages, such as Welsh Meurig; and sometimes a use of the surname.
    • a surname, either as
      • a patronymic, denoting descendants of a 'Morris' (forename) in its various forms;
      • membership of an Irish clan (Ó Muiris);

Among the famous Morrisses in history, with derivatives from their names, are:

      • William Morris (1834-1896), a prolific artist and writer. He believed aesthetically in the value of design and personal craftsmanship, and politically in a form of socialism; he was a founding figure of the Arts and Crafts movement, and the founder of the Kelmscott Press. (The Kelmscott [edition of the works of] Chaucer, printed to resemble manuscript, is a masterpiece of nineteenth century printing.)
        • Morris wallpapers and textiles remain the staple of certain types of interior design.
      • William Richard Morris (1877-1963), first Viscount Nuffield, a designer and builder of motor cars, and consequently influential in the extension of mass production. He became very rich, and spent philanthropically, founding Nuffield College, Oxford (in a suburb of which, Cowley, he built his factory) in 1937, and endowing the Nuffield Foundation (1943) for medical, social, and scientific research.
        • Nuffield gave his surname to the Morris brand of cars.