Last night, I was wondering whether “molder,” as in “moldering in the grave” was related to the fungal substance mold. Turns out, the answer is mo. Er…no. There’s an archaic meaning of “mold,” from whence “molder”: decay, as a verb, or loose soft earth, as a noun, from a Germanic base meaning to pulverize or grind, via Old English. The other two molds come through different paths. The fungal one started out as the Danish mugle and came to us via Middle English, through various forms growing increasingly similar to our present-day word. The “form in which a substance is shaped” mold comes ultimately from the Latin module.
But a note in one of the definitions for the molder type of mold caught my eye. The Oxford Dictionary of English mentions that the soft loose earth “mold” is related to meal! I got the shivers. This grinding thing, with m-l in the words, is prolific!! I started looking around in the dictionary. Through those entries and my own knowledge, I produced the following list of related words in English and Spanish. Leave a comment if you can add any more!
mill–the grinding mechanism
miller–the guy who grinds
Miller and Mueller–surnames therefrom
molars–your grinding teeth
moline–a certain cross design in heraldry, so named because the shape resembles the iron support of a millstone
mole–a mass in the uterus (medical use of the Latin word mola, millstone)
note: the burrowing animal mole, the spot on your skin mole, the chemistry quantity mole, and the Mexican sauce mole are not related
molinero–adj., milling or vb., miller
moledura–n., grinding/crushing/milling (e.g., of coffee, olive, wheat)
Update, 1/9/11–see “immolate” on another post.