Robot 6

From Morbius to Mordo: Why does ‘mor’ sound so sinister?

morbius

What is it about the syllable “mor” that denotes villainy?

After all, at Marvel there’s Baron Mordo, the longtime enemy of Doctor Strange; Morg, the remorselss herald of Galactus; and Morbius, who lately is more misunderstood than evil. And DC Comics boasts Mordru the Merciless, the, well, merciless Lord of Chaos; Morgaine le Fey, the diabolical sorceress; Mordecai Smyt and Morax, archfiend and fiend of Hell, respectively. Oh! Plus, Morgan Edge. And those are only a handful of notables from comic books.

James Harbeck mulls over the question for The Week, rattling off Mordred (an oldie but a goodie), Voldemort, Moriarty, Mordor and others from film and literature. Acknowledging the Latin root refers to death and the Germanic “mora” to darkness, he theorizes that “mor” may be “what is sometimes called a phonestheme: a part of a word that tends to carry a certain connotation not because of etymology or formal definition but just by association.”

It’s a fascinating read, even if you have only a passing interest in language, or Dirk Morgna. No, wait — that’s Sun Boy; he’s not bad. Let’s go with Morticoccus, the sentient virus.

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Comments

One Comment

Jenos Idanian #13

March 14, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Let’s not forget Mort Weisinger’s reputation for terrorizing creators, even allegedly hanging one out a window. And Morpheus brings nightmares…

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