Word Origin & History
"trace, impression," O.E. mearc (W.Saxon), merc (Mercian) "boundary, sign, limit, mark," from P.Gmc. *marko (cf. O.N. merki "boundary, sign," mörk "forest," which often marked a frontier; O.Fris. merke, Goth. marka "boundary, frontier," Du. merk "mark, brand," Ger. Mark "boundary, boundary land"),
from PIE *mereg- "edge, boundary" (cf. L. margo "margin," O.Ir. mruig "borderland"). The primary sense is probably "boundary," which had evolved by O.E. through "sign of a boundary," "sign in general," "impression or trace forming a sign." Meaning "any visible trace or impression" first recorded c.1200. Sense of "line drawn to indicate starting point of a race" (e.g. on your marks ...) first attested 1887. The M.E. sense of "target" (c.1200) is the notion in marksman
and slang sense "victim of a swindle" (1883). The notion of "sign, token" is behind the meaning "numerical award given by a teacher" (1829). The verb is O.E. mearcian (W.Saxon), merciga (Anglian) "to trace out boundaries," from P.Gmc. *markojanan. Both noun and verb influenced by Scandinavian cognates. Mark time (1833) is from military drill.
"unit of money or weight," late O.E. marc, a unit of weight (chiefly for gold or silver) equal to about eight ounces, probably from O.N. mörk "unit of weight," cognate with Ger. Mark, ult. a derivative of mark
(1), perhaps in sense of "imprinted weight or coin." Used from
18c. in ref. to various continental coinages, esp. the silver coin of Germany first issued 1875.
masc. proper name, variant of Marcus
(q.v.). Among the top 10 names given to boy babies born in the U.S. between 1955 and 1970.