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musk

[muhsk] /mʌsk/
noun
1.
a substance secreted in a glandular sac under the skin of the abdomen of the male musk deer, having a strong odor, and used in perfumery.
2.
an artificial imitation of the substance.
3.
a similar secretion of other animals, as the civet, muskrat, and otter.
4.
the odor of musk or some similar odor.
5.
Botany. any of several plants, as the monkey flower, having a musky fragrance.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English musk(e) (< Middle French musc) < Late Latin muscus (Medieval Latin moschus) < Late Greek móskos, móschos < Persian mushk
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for musk
  • The freezer case was full of curious meats: a snowy hunk of a fin whale's throat, a slab of musk ox.
  • The resulting molecule is similar in shape and smell to the musk sprayed by skunks.
  • Scientists are seeking to understand how the musk ox has managed to persist through repeated climate shifts and habitat upheavals.
  • It is thought that they use their strong-smelling musk secretion to mark out territories.
  • Dozens of wild horses are already grazing in the refuge, and there are plans to import bison and musk oxen.
  • Other inhabitants include musk oxen and grizzly bears.
  • The place has been rented out to a quartet of folks with the musk of mystery about them.
  • We loved the heedless risk, the show's musk of comic danger.
British Dictionary definitions for musk

musk

/mʌsk/
noun
1.
a strong-smelling glandular secretion of the male musk deer, used in perfumery
2.
a similar substance produced by certain other animals, such as the civet and otter, or manufactured synthetically
3.
any of several scrophulariaceous plants of the genus Mimulus, esp the North American M. moschatus, which has yellow flowers and was formerly cultivated for its musky scent See also monkey flower
4.
the smell of musk or a similar heady smell
5.
(modifier) containing or resembling musk: musk oil, a musk flavour
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin muscus, from Greek moskhos, from Persian mushk, probably from Sanskrit mushká scrotum (from the appearance of the musk deer's musk bag), diminutive of mūshmouse
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 musk
n.

late 14c., from Old French musc (13c.) and directly from Late Latin muscus, from Late Greek moskhos, from Persian mushk, from Sanskrit muska-s "testicle," from mus "mouse" (so called, presumably, for resemblance; see muscle). The deer gland was thought to resemble a scrotum. German has moschos, from a Medieval Latin form of the Late Greek word. Spanish has almizcle, from Arabic al misk "the musk," from Persian. Applied to various plants and animals of similar smell (e.g. musk-ox, 1744).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for musk

substance obtained from the male musk deer and having a penetrating, persistent odour. It is used in the highest grades of perfume because of its odour characteristics, ability to remain in evidence for long periods of time, and ability to act as a fixative. Its quality varies according to the season and the age of the animal from which it is obtained. In India and parts of the Far East, aphrodisiac, stimulant, and antispasmodic effects have been attributed to musk.

Learn more about musk with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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