1 [meys]
a clublike armor-breaking weapon of war, often with a flanged or spiked metal head, used chiefly in the Middle Ages.
a ceremonial staff carried before or by certain officials as a symbol of office.
Billiards. a light stick with a flat head, formerly used at times instead of a cue.

1250–1300; Middle English < Old French (compare French masse) large mallet < Vulgar Latin *mattea; akin to Latin matteola kind of mallet; compare Sanskrit matya harrow Unabridged


2 [meys]
a spice ground from the layer between a nutmeg shell and its outer husk, resembling nutmeg in flavor.

1350–1400; Middle English, back formation from macis (taken as plural) < Middle French < Latin maccis a spice


a nonlethal spray containing purified tear gas and chemical solvents that temporarily incapacitate a person mainly by causing eye and skin irritations: used especially as a means of subduing rioters.
Also called Chemical Mace.


verb (used with object), Maced, Macing.
(sometimes lowercase) to attack with Mace spray.

see Mace Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mace1 (meɪs)
1.  a club, usually having a spiked metal head, used esp in the Middle Ages
2.  a ceremonial staff of office carried by certain officials
3.  See macebearer
4.  an early form of billiard cue
[C13: from Old French, probably from Vulgar Latin mattea (unattested); apparently related to Latin mateola mallet]

mace2 (meɪs)
a spice made from the dried aril round the nutmeg seed
[C14: formed as a singular from Old French macis (wrongly assumed to be plural), from Latin macir an oriental spice]

Mace (meɪs)
1.  trademark a liquid causing tears and nausea, used as a spray for riot control, etc
2.  (tr; sometimes not capital) to use Mace on

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"heavy metal weapon with a spiked head," c.1300, from O.Fr. mace "a club, scepter," from V.L. *mattea (cf. It. mazza, Sp. maza "mace"), from L. mateola "a kind of mallet." The L. word probably is cognate with Skt. matyam "harrow, club," O.C.S. motyka "mattock," O.H.G. medela "plow."

"spice made from dry outer husk of nutmeg," late 14c., from O.Fr. macis (in Eng. taken as a plural), sometimes said to be a scribal error for L. macir, a red spicy bark from India, but OED finds this etymology unlikely.

chemical spray originally used in riot control, 1966, technically Chemical Mace, a proprietary name (General Ordnance Equipment Corp, Pittsburgh, Pa.), probably so called for its use as a weapon, in ref. to mace (1). The verb is first attested 1968.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

Mace or MACE (mās)

An alternate trademark used for Chemical Mace, an aerosol used to immobilize an attacker temporarily.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Example sentences for maces
The maces of cavalrymen were longer and better designed for blows from horseback.
University maces are employed in a manner similar to parliamentary maces.
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