c.1430, from O.Fr. (danse) Macabré
"(dance) of Death" (1376), probably a translation of M.L. (Chorea) Machabæorum,
lit. "dance of the Maccabees" (leaders of the Jewish revolt against Syro-Hellenes, see Maccabees
). The association with the dance of death seems to be via vivid descriptions of the martyrdom of the Maccabees in the Apocryphal books. The abstracted sense of "gruesome" is first attested 1842 in Fr., 1889 in Eng.