Unknown. The Hesychius hapax Ancient Greek μύρκος (múrkos), μυρικᾶς (murikâs, mute, dumb), transmitted as being used in Syracuse, is deemed by Oikonomos, Ernout/Meillet and Beekes borrowed from Latin. Connection to murgisō (shrewd shyster), Old Armenian մրգուզ (mrguz, vile, despicable) seems promising, however the -cus part reoccurs in broccus (having broken teeth), mancus (maimed, crippled), caecus (blind).



murcus m (genitive murcī); second declension (very rare)

  1. shortened, mutilated
  2. (military) a coward, who, to escape military service, cuts off his thumb
    • c. 390 CE, Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Gestae 15.12.3:
      Nec eōrum aliquandō quisquam ut in Italiā mūnus Mārtium pertimēscēns pollicem sibi praecidit, quōs locāliter murcōs appellant.
      Neither are there among them any who, fearing military duty, cuts off, as in Italy, his thumb, which they regionally call murcī.


Second-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative murcus murcī
Genitive murcī murcōrum
Dative murcō murcīs
Accusative murcum murcōs
Ablative murcō murcīs
Vocative murce murcī

Derived termsEdit

  • murcidus (languid) (uncertain, also rare)
  • Murcus (personal name) (uncertain)


  • murcus in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • murcus in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré Latin-Français, Hachette
  • Ernout, Alfred; Meillet, Antoine (2001) , “murcus”, in Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine: histoire des mots (in French), with additions and corrections of André J., 4th edition, Paris: Klincksieck, page 422b
  • murcus” in volume 8, column 1670, line 54 in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (TLL Open Access), Berlin (formerly Leipzig): De Gruyter (formerly Teubner), 1900–present