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See also: Moist



Etymology 1[edit]

The adjective is derived from Middle English moist, moiste (damp, humid, moist, wet; well-irrigated, well-watered; made up of water or other fluids, fluid; of ale: fresh; (figuratively) carnal, lascivious; undisciplined, weak; (alchemy, medicine, physics) dominated by water as an element) [and other forms],[1] from Anglo-Norman moist, moiste, moste, Middle French moiste, and Old French moiste, muste (damp, moist, wet) (modern French moite); further etymology uncertain, perhaps a blend of a Late Latin variant of Latin mūcidus (mouldy, musty) + a Late Latin derivative of Latin mustum (unfermented or partially fermented grape juice or wine, must).[2]

The noun is derived from the adjective.


moist (comparative moister or more moist, superlative moistest or most moist)

  1. Characterized by the presence of moisture; not dry; slightly wet; damp. [from 14th c.]
    Synonyms: moisty; see also Thesaurus:wet
    Antonyms: unmoist; see also Thesaurus:dry
    • c. 1605–1608, William Shakespeare, “The Life of Tymon of Athens”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act IV, scene iii], page 92, column 2:
      Will theſe moyſt Trees,
      That haue out-liu'd the Eagle, page thy heeles
      And skip when thou point'ſt out?
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Prayer of Azariah, verse 26, column 1:
      And [the Angel of the Lord] made the mids of the fornace, as it had bene a moiſt whiſtling wind, ſo that the fire touched them not at all, neither hurt nor troubled them.
    • 1625, [Samuel] Purchas, “Relations of Africa, Taken Out of Master George Sandys His Larger Discourse Obserued in His Iourney, Begun Ann. 1610. Lib. 2.”, in Purchas His Pilgrimes. [], 2nd part, London: [] William Stansby for Henrie Fetherstone, [], →OCLC, 6th book, § III (The Pyramides Viewed, Sphynx and Other Antiquities. Iourney from Cairo to Gaza.), page 908:
      [Y]et the North-ſide [of the pyramids of Giza] moſt worne, by reaſon of the humiditie of the Northerne wind, which here is the moiſteſt.
    • 1631, Francis [Bacon], “V. Century. [Experiments in Consort, Touching the Melioration of Fruits, Trees, and Plants.]”, in Sylua Syluarum: Or A Naturall Historie. In Ten Centuries. [], 3rd edition, London: [] William Rawley; [p]rinted by J[ohn] H[aviland] for William Lee [], paragraph 465, page 117, →OCLC:
      [W]e ſee Swines and Pigs Fleſh is the Moiſteſt of Fleſhes.
    • 1637, John Milton, “Lycidas”, in Poems of Mr. John Milton, [], London: [] Ruth Raworth for Humphrey Mosely, [], published 1646, →OCLC, page 63:
      Whilſt thee the ſhores, and ſounding Seas
      Waſh far away, where ere thy bones are hurld,
      Whether beyond the ſtormy Hebrides,
      Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
      Viſit'ſt the bottom of the monſtrous world;
      Or whether thou to our moiſt vows deny'd,
      Sleep'ſt by the fable of Bellerus old, []
      That is, “tearful vows”: compare sense 2.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IX”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC, lines 1065–1066:
      [T]he Winds
      Blow moiſt and keen, ſhattering the graceful locks
      Of theſe fair ſpreading Trees; []
    • 1704, Nathan Bailey, “HOP”, in Dictionarium Rusticum & Urbanicum: Or, A Dictionary of All Sorts of Country Affairs, Handicraft, Trading, and Merchandizing. [], London: [] J. Nicholson, [], →OCLC, column 1:
      After every watering, which need not be above twice or thrice in every Summer, ſo they may be thoroughly wet, be ſure to make up the Hills, wherein holes for the water had been made, with ſome parings, and with the weeds, and cooleſt and moiſteſt Materials that can be got.
    • 1843 December 19, Charles Dickens, “Stave Three. The Second of the Three Spirits.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, [], →OCLC, pages 83–84:
      Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their highly-decorated boxes, []: but the customers were all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the door, []
    • 1937 November 1, “Books: Modernist Miracle: The Gardener Who Saw GodEdward James—Scribner ($2.50) [book review]”, in Time[1], New York, N.Y.: Time Inc., →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 10 November 2021:
      Joseph Smith, a diffident, conscientious young man with moist hands and an awkward, absent-minded manner, was head gardener at Wotton Vanborough.
    • 2011, Dominic Streatfeild, “Stuff Happens”, in A History of the World since 9/11, London: Atlantic Books, →ISBN, page 192:
      'The other car didn't explode,' continues Abu Shujaa. 'The explosives were a bit moist. They had been stored in a place that was too humid. []'
  2. Of eyes: wet with tears; tearful; also (obsolete), watery due to some illness or to old age. [from 14th c.]
    Synonyms: dewy-eyed, misty, teary, weepy, wet
  3. Of a climate, the weather, etc.: damp, humid, rainy. [from 14th c.]
    Synonyms: dank; see also Thesaurus:muggy
    • 1697, Virgil, “The First Book of the Georgics”, in John Dryden, transl., The Works of Virgil: Containing His Pastorals, Georgics, and Æneis. [], London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], →OCLC, page 53, lines 145–146:
      Ye Swains, invoke the Pow'rs who rule the Sky,
      For a moiſt Summer, and a Winter dry:
      For Winter drout rewards the Peaſant's Pain,
      And broods indulgent on the bury'd Grain.
    • 1758, William Borlase, “Of the Air, and Weather”, in The Natural History of Cornwall. [], Oxford, Oxfordshire: [] [F]or the author, by W. Jackson; sold by W. Sandby, [], →OCLC, page 6:
      [I]n the year 1752, which we may reckon among ſome of our moiſteſt Summers throughout England, more Rain fell at London than at Plymouth, according to an eſtimate made at both places; []
    • 1864 May – 1865 November, Charles Dickens, “Mr. Wegg Looks after Himself”, in Our Mutual Friend. [], volume I, London: Chapman and Hall, [], published 1865, →OCLC, book the first (The Cup and the Lip), page 58:
      The time is early in the evening; the weather moist and raw.
    • 2008 September 8, Graham Harvey, “Steaks are high”, in Alan Rusbridger, editor, The Guardian[3], London: Guardian News & Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, archived from the original on 14 March 2021:
      With its mild, moist climate, Britain is uniquely placed to grow good grass. Through the centuries pastures have produced many of our basic foods including our beef and lamb; our poultry and eggs; our milk[,] butter and cheese.
  4. (informal) Of the vagina: sexually lubricated due to sexual arousal; of a woman: sexually aroused, turned on. [from 20th c.]
    Synonym: wet
    • 2008, Marcia King-Gamble, chapter 14, in Meet Phoenix (Kimani Romance), New York, N.Y.: Kimani Press, →ISBN, page 168:
      He slid a finger in me, checking to make sure I was moist and ready for him.
  5. (medicine)
    1. Characterized by the presence of some fluid such as mucus, pus, etc. [from 14th c.]
    2. Of sounds of internal organs (especially as heard through a stethoscope): characterized by the sound of air bubbling through a fluid.
  6. (sciences, historical) Pertaining to one of the four essential qualities formerly believed to be present in all things, characterized by wetness; also, having a significant amount of this quality. [from 14th c.]
    • c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: [] (Second Quarto), London: [] I[ames] R[oberts] for N[icholas] L[ing] [], published 1604, →OCLC, [Act I, scene i]:
      [T]he moiſt ſtarre,
      Vpon whoſe influence Neptunes Empier ſtands,
      Was ſicke almoſt to doomeſday with eclipſe, []
    • 1621, William of Saluste, Lord of Bartus [i.e., Guillaume de Salluste Du Bartas], “The Fourth Day of the First VVeeke of VVilliam of Salust, Lord of Bartas”, in T. L. D. M. P. [pseudonym; Thomas Lodge], transl., A Learned Summary upon the Famous Poeme of William of Saluste Lord of Bartus. [], London: [] [George Purslowe] for Iohn Grismand [], →OCLC, page 169:
      [] Ergo it behooveth then, that the firſt age, and the firſt ſeaſon of things ſhould beginne in the moiſteſt Signe, which is Aries, and in his head, as the principall of the Members, the Fortreſſe of the Soule, and the Signe of Life.
    • 1624, Democritus Junior [pseudonym; Robert Burton], “Division of the Body. Humours, Spirits.”, in The Anatomy of Melancholy: [], 2nd edition, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Printed by John Lichfield and James Short, for Henry Cripps, →OCLC, partition 1, section 1, member 2, subsection 2, page 13:
      Pituita, or Fleagme, is a cold and moiſt humour, begotten of the colder part of the Chylus, (or white iuyce comming of the meat digeſted in the ſtomacke) in the Liuer, his office is to nouriſh, and moiſten the members of the body, which as the tongue, are moued, that they be no ouer-drye.
    • 1728, E[phraim] Chambers, “ELEMENTS”, in Cyclopædia: Or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences; [] In Two Volumes, volumes I (A–H), London: [] James and John Knapton [et al.], →OCLC, page 288, column 2:
      He [Aristotle] made four Elements; the firſt, cold and dry; the ſecond, cold and moiſt; the third, hot and moiſt; and the fourth, hot and dry. [] And Water, being the coldeſt and moiſteſt of all Things, he call'd his ſecond Element, Water.
    • 1791, Oliver Goldsmith, “Of Fish in General”, in An History of the Earth, and Animated Nature. [], new edition, volume VI, London: [] F[rancis] Wingrave, successor to Mr. [John] Nourse, [], →OCLC, part I (The Cetaceous Kind), pages 165–166:
      They [fish] are cold and moiſt, and muſt needs, ſay they, produce juices of the ſame kind, and conſequently are improper to ſtrengthen the body. In this diverſity of opinion, it is the wiſest way to eat our fiſh in the ordinary manner, and pay no great attention to cooks or doctors.
    • 1862 August – 1863 March, Charles Kingsley, chapter VIII, in The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land-Baby, London, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire: Macmillan and Co., published 1863, →OCLC, page 330:
      Neither did the live coals, which were lying about in plenty, burn him; for, being a water-baby, his radical humours were of a moist and cold nature, []
  7. (obsolete)
    1. Fluid, liquid, watery. [from 14th or earlier–17th c.]
      Synonyms: liquidlike; see also Thesaurus:fluidic
    2. (also poetic) Bringing moisture or rain. [a. 14th – 18th c.]
Usage notes[edit]

Moist is mostly used for agreeable or neutral conditions (for example, “moist cake”) while damp is mainly used for disagreeable conditions (“damp clothes”).

Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]


moist (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete except US, regional) Moistness; also, moisture.
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English moisten, moist, moiste (to make moist or wet; to soak in liquid; to become moist or wet; to provide with moisture or water; to satisfy thirst with liquor or water, slake) [and other forms],[3] and then either:[4]


moist (third-person singular simple present moists, present participle moisting, simple past and past participle moisted)

  1. (transitive)
    1. (obsolete except British, regional and US) To make (something) moist or wet; to moisten.
      Synonyms: dampen, enmoisten, hydrate, wet
      Antonyms: dehydrate, desiccate, dry, (obsolete) exiccate, exsiccate, parch
    2. (obsolete, figuratively) To inspire, to refresh (someone); also, to soften (one's heart).
  2. (intransitive)
    1. (US) To rain lightly; to drizzle.
    2. (obsolete) To have an effect of moistening or wetting.
      • c. 1527–1542, Thomas Wyatt, “Auysing the bright bemes of these fayer Iyes”, in Egerton MS 2711[4], page 22r:
        Auyſing the bright bemes of theſe fayer Iyes
        where he is that myn oft moiſteth & waſſheth
        Avising the bright beams of these fair eyes,
        Where he is that mine oft moisteth and washeth; []
      • 1553, “Of Mouyng Pitie”, in Thomas Wilson, transl., The Arte of Rhetorike, for the Use of All sutche as are Studious of Eloquence, [], London: [] Jhon Kyngston, published 1580, →OCLC, page 136:
        Againe, nothyng moiſteth ſoner then water. Therefore, a wepyng eye cauſeth muche moiſture, and prouoketh teares.
      • [1575], Thomas Paynell, transl., Regimen Sanitatis Salerni. [], London: [] Wyllyam How, for Abraham Veale, →OCLC, folio ciii, verso:
        There is other ſome yͭ [that] heateth temperately. And another yͭ cooleth temperatly, and if moiſtneſſe be ioyned therewith, it moiſteth, and with a drie thinge, it drieth.
      • 1885, Henry J[ames] Swallow, “Ralph de Nevill, First Earl of Westmoreland”, in De Nova Villa: Or, The House of Nevill in Sunshine and Shade, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Andrew Reid, []; London: Griffith, Farran, & Co., [], →OCLC, page 42:
        [S]prinkle a vessel of water, and it moisteth not, but cast it out wholly together, and it both washeth and nourisheth. This notable saying, before this time hath encourage Emperors, animated Kings, and allured Princes, to conquer realmes to them adjoining, to vanquish nations to their dominions adjacent, and to subdue people either necessary for their purpose, or being to them daily enemies and continual adversaries.
Derived terms[edit]


  1. ^ moist(e, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ moist, adj. and n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021; moist, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  3. ^ moisten, v.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  4. ^ moist, v.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2021.



Alternative forms[edit]


From Proto-Finnic *muistadak, from Proto-Finno-Ugric *muja-. Cognates include Estonian mõistma (to understand), Finnish muistaa (to remember).



  1. understand

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of moiste