One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A strong-smelling reddish-brown substance which is secreted by the male musk deer for scent-marking and is an important ingredient in perfumery.
- ‘In China, these deer are now bred in captivity so that their musk can be harvested.’
- ‘Even the lightest, most flowery perfumes contain a trace of musk.’
- ‘The preference for this specific cologne may have something to do with one particular ingredient: musk.’
- ‘In the sixteenth century, for example, pungent animal scents such as musk and civet were very popular.’
- ‘This updated version has less musk an provides more emphasis on the fruit-based top notes.’
- 1.1 A secretion similar to musk from another animal.‘civets habitually deposit tiny amounts of musk’
2A relative of the monkey flower that was formerly cultivated for its musky perfume, which has been lost in the development of modern varieties.
- ‘With two-thirds of an acre to tend, I stopped growing high-maintenance hybrid teas and turned to rugosas and hybrid musks - they're much easier and very satisfying alternatives.’
Late Middle English: from late Latin muscus, from Persian mušk, perhaps from Sanskrit muṣka ‘scrotum’ (because of the similarity in shape of the sac on the abdomen of a male musk deer in which musk is produced).
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