The Collaborative International Dictionary
Morisco \Mo*ris"co\, n. [Sp. morisco Moorish.] A thing of Moorish origin; as:
The Moorish language.
A Moorish dance, now called morris dance.
One who dances the Moorish dance.
Moresque decoration or architecture.
Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary
mid-15c., moreys daunce "Moorish dance," from Flemish mooriske dans, from Old French morois "Moorish, Arab, black," from More "Moor" (see Moor). Unknown why the English dance was called this, unless in reference to fantastic dancing or costumes (compare Italian Moresco, a related dance, literally "Moorish;" German moriskentanz, French moresque).
n. A traditional English folk dance performed by a team of costume dancers, often men but also men and women together or women only, who often wield sticks or handkerchiefs. vb. To perform in such a dance
n. any of various English folk dances performed by men in costume [syn: morris dancing]
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers, usually wearing bell pads on their shins. Implements such as sticks, swords and handkerchiefs may also be wielded by the dancers. In a small number of dances for one or two people, steps are near and across a pair of clay tobacco pipes laid one across the other on the floor.
The earliest known and surviving English written mention of Morris dance is dated to 1448, and records the payment of seven shillings to Morris dancers by the Goldsmiths' Company in London. Further mentions of Morris dancing occur in the late 15th century, and there are also early records such as visiting bishops' "Visitation Articles" mention sword dancing, guising and other dancing activities, as well as mumming plays.
While the earliest records invariably mention "Morys" in a court setting, and a little later in the Lord Mayors' Processions in London, it had adopted the nature of a folk dance performed in the parishes by the mid 17th century.
Outside England, there are around 150 Morris sides (or teams) in the United States. British expatriates form a larger part of the Morris tradition in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Hong Kong. There are isolated groups in other countries
Usage examples of "morris dance".
In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no-one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away - until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested.
There were also twenty old maids wearing wooden beads in it, with trays of muffins slung round their necks, and, as they offered the trays to the boys, they sang through their noses in educated accents and danced a morris dance to their own time.
The witches, whose idea of homely entertainment was a Morris dance, watched open-mouthed from the crowded sidewalk as the parades strutted by.