Definition of mortise in English:


(also mortice)


  • A hole or recess cut into a part, designed to receive a corresponding projection (a tenon) on another part so as to join or lock the parts together.

    • ‘The router is used to cut contours in wood for edgings and moldings or for more complex relief panels and inlay work, dovetails, and mortises.’
    • ‘Then cut a V-channel across the mortise anywhere within the mortise.’
    • ‘If this chair had been produced by the sophisticated woodworking machinery of the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, it is reasonable to expect that the mortises would also have been machine cut.’
    • ‘Jefferson simplified the complicated joinery of mortises, tenons, and wooden keys by substituting laminated sections fabricated with an abundance of nails readily available from his plantation nail factory.’
    • ‘Mortise attachments are very popular, allowing you to drill precise mortises with your drill press.’
    • ‘There are two main types of joint- the mortise and tenon, and the dovetail.’
    • ‘Use a sharp chisel or utility knife to enlarge the mortise in the direction that you need to move the plate.’
    • ‘The added work of chiseling mortises and cutting tenons for the joined stretcher, rather than setting a turned stretcher into drilled holes, seems to suggest a decorative aspiration rather than a structural need.’
    • ‘With an octagonal cross section, the frame of the pagoda is completely made of wooden parts solidly linked by many mortises and tenons held together by a sophisticated system of brackets, in 54 different varieties.’
    • ‘That's why so many old guns have a broken wrist or lock mortise.’
    • ‘Unpinned splat tenons have room to expand and contract within the mortise, avoiding splitting.’
    • ‘The bars were jointed to the stiles and rails using a small mortise with a corresponding tenon in the bar.’
    • ‘It appears that the left side of the stock, as well, has been planed away slightly to open the left side of the iron mortise.’
    • ‘You can use a router to cut mortises for hardware, to joint and trim lumber, to create recesses for decorative inlays, and much more.’
    • ‘The mortised joint is even neater than the butt joint, but you must cut a mortise into the post for this joint.’
    • ‘Drill a hole and chisel a shallow mortise in that jamb for the strike plate.’
    • ‘On the day of the accident, when fitting earlier sections to the tower the crew had difficulty in aligning the tenons on the top of the tower with the mortices on the bottom of the new tower section.’
    • ‘The stock was made of hardwood, in two pieces, to simplify forming the wedge mortise.’
    • ‘Mark and cut the mortise and recess for the strike plate using the same method used for installing the lock.’
    • ‘Instead, they employ hand-chiseled mortises and tenons, which are secured by wooden pegs that must be carved by hand.’
    • ‘If the door is not plumb, you may have to adjust the hinge in its mortise.’


  • 1 Join securely by using a mortise and tenon.

    • ‘You will need to mortise the plate into the edge of the door so that it is flush with the surface of the edge.’
    • ‘Drill into the frame and into the stud behind it at this point, mortise the frame to accept the strike plate, then attach the plate to the frame.’
    • ‘They are most often used in new installations and as replacements because they are mortised into the frame of the door.’
    • ‘All members with the exception of the collar ties and wind braces are mortised and tenoned together with long tapered pins that secure the joints.’
    • ‘Helping to compensate for this are the joined struts that are mortised and tenoned to both the joists and rafters, in effect converting each rafter-joist pair into what might be described as the most primitive form of truss.’
    joint, join, fit together, link, interlock, splice, mortise, tenon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1[with object]Cut a mortise in or through.
      ‘the mortised ports’
      • ‘The extractor is massive and mortised into the side of the bolt.’
      • ‘Rafters were cut into mortised joints at the ridge, and braces buttress the walls in every direction.’
      • ‘Mammoth tree trunks stretch across ceilings above hand-carved lintels, mortised into place in elaborate structures.’
      • ‘Interestingly, neither the chairs nor the armchair have side rails mortised through the rear posts as is so common (but not universal) in Philadelphia work.’
      • ‘The mortised joint is even neater than the butt joint, but you must cut a mortise into the post for this joint.’


Late Middle English: from Old French mortaise.