1250-1300;Middle English < Latinmerus pure, unmixed, mere
1. Mere, bare imply a scant sufficiency. They are often interchangeable, but mere frequently means no more than (enough). Bare suggests scarcely as much as (enough). Thus a mere livelihood means enough to live on but no more; a bare livelihood means scarcely enough to live on.
Chiefly British Dialect. a lake or pond.
Obsolete. any body of sea water.
before 900;Middle English,Old English; cognate with GermanMeer,Old Norsemarr,Gothicmarei,Old Irishmuir,Latinmare
c.1400, "unmixed," from O.Fr. mier "pure, entire," from L. merus "unmixed, pure, bare," used of wine, probably originally "clear, bright," from PIE *mer- "to gleam, glimmer, sparkle" (cf. O.E. amerian "to purify," O.Ir. emer "not clear," Skt. maricih "ray, beam," Gk. marmarein "to gleam, glimmer"). Original sense of "nothing less than, absolute" (1530s, now only in vestiges such as mere folly) existed for centuries alongside opposite sense of "nothing more than" (1580s, e.g. a mere dream).
O.E. mere "sea, lake, pool, pond," from P.Gmc. *mari (cf. O.N. marr, O.S. meri "sea," Du. meer "lake," O.H.G. mari, Ger. Meer "sea," Goth. marei "sea," mari-saiws "lake"), from PIE *mori-/*mari "sea" (cf. L. mare, O.C.S. morje, Rus. more, Lith. mares, O.Ir. muir, Welsh mor "sea," Gaulish Are-morici "people living near the sea").