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[myooz] /myuz/
verb (used without object), mused, musing.
to think or meditate in silence, as on some subject.
Archaic. to gaze meditatively or wonderingly.
verb (used with object), mused, musing.
to meditate on.
to comment thoughtfully or ruminate upon.
Origin of muse
1300-50; Middle English musen to mutter, gaze meditatively on, be astonished < Middle French muser, perhaps ultimately derivative of Medieval Latin mūsum muzzle
Related forms
muser, noun
Can be confused
mews, muse.
1. cogitate, ruminate, think; dream. 1, 3. ponder, contemplate, deliberate.


[myooz] /myuz/
Classical Mythology.
  1. any of a number of sister goddesses, originally given as Aoede (song), Melete (meditation), and Mneme (memory), but latterly and more commonly as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over various arts: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy); identified by the Romans with the Camenae.
  2. any goddess presiding over a particular art.
(sometimes lowercase) the goddess or the power regarded as inspiring a poet, artist, thinker, or the like.
(lowercase) the genius or powers characteristic of a poet.
1350-1400; Middle English Muse < Middle French < Latin Mūsa < Greek Moûsa Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for muses
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I am not sorry to see the muses by the side of childhood, and forming a part of the family.

    Imaginary Conversations and Poems Walter Savage Landor
  • It is true, if we except the heart-touching poems of Cowper, the muses were silent.

  • One beautiful summer morning this winged horse appeared at the fountain of the muses on Mount Helicon.

    Classic Myths Mary Catherine Judd
  • Why, yes, I said, of course they answer truly; how can the muses speak falsely?

    The Republic Plato
  • One muses of these boys now and then—what the future has for them.

    Deering of Deal Latta Griswold
British Dictionary definitions for muses


when intr, often foll by on or about. to reflect (about) or ponder (on), usually in silence
(intransitive) to gaze thoughtfully
(archaic) a state of abstraction
Derived Forms
muser, noun
museful, adjective
musefully, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Old French muser, perhaps from mus snout, from Medieval Latin mūsus


a goddess that inspires a creative artist, esp a poet
Word Origin
C14: from Old French, from Latin Mūsa, from Greek Mousa a Muse


(Greek myth) any of nine sister goddesses, each of whom was regarded as the protectress of a different art or science. Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, the nine are Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for muses



"to reflect, to be absorbed in thought," mid-14c., from Old French muser (12c.) "to ponder, dream, wonder; loiter, waste time," literally "to stand with one's nose in the air" (or, possibly, "to sniff about" like a dog who has lost the scent), from muse "muzzle," from Gallo-Romance *musa "snout," of unknown origin. Probably influenced in sense by muse (n.). Related: Mused; musing.


late 14c., protectors of the arts, from Old French Muse and directly from Latin Musa, from Greek Mousa, "the Muse," also "music, song," from PIE root *men- "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)). Meaning "inspiring goddess of a particular poet" is from late 14c. The traditional names and specialties of the nine Muses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, are: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (love poetry, lyric art), Euterpe (music, especially flute), Melpomene (tragedy), Polymnia (hymns), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), Urania (astronomy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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muses in Culture

Muses definition

Nine goddesses of classical mythology who presided over learning and the arts. They were especially associated with poetry. Ancient Greek or Roman writers would often begin their poems by asking for the aid of the Muses in their composition.

Note: Writers and artists to this day speak of their “muse,” meaning their source of inspiration.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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