The more archaic, perhaps dialectal Middle Korean form *모로〮 (Yale: *mwòlwó) is attested as part of the place name 피〮모로〮 (Yale: Phímwòlwó) in the 1447 Yongbi eocheonga. Beyond Korean sources, the earliest attestations are given in eighth-century Old Japanese documents as 山(mure), presumably reflecting the Old Korean pronunciations of the era. Compare 모롱이(morong'i, “curve of a mountain spur”).
The original "mountain" sense has been mostly displaced by Sino-Korean산(山)(san), which began to drive out the native word in the eighteenth century. The "tomb" sense is from the nineteenth century, reinforced by the unrelated Sino-Korean 묘 (墓, myo, “tomb”).
In the South Korean theoretical standard, the archaic "mountain" sense is covered by the phonetic variant 메(me), and 뫼(moe) should refer solely to the grave. In practice, 메(me, “mountain”) is wholly obsolete, while 뫼(moe) still sees occasional use in the "mountain" sense.