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late 15c., "caustic" (of words, speech), from Middle French mordant, literally "biting," present participle of mordre "to bite," from Latin mordere "to bite, bite into; nip, sting;" figuratively "to pain, cause hurt," perhaps from PIE root mer- (2) "to rub away, harm" (see smart (v.)). Related: Mordantly. The noun sense in dyeing is first recorded 1791; the adjective in this sense is from 1902. Related: Mordancy; mordantly.
mordant mor·dant (môr'dnt)
Serving to fix colors in dyeing. n.
A reagent, such as tannic acid, that fixes dyes to cells, tissues, or other materials. v. mor·dant·ed, mor·dant·ing, mor·dants
To treat with a mordant.