What Is a Muse, What Does the Word Mean, and Why Is An Artist’s Inspiration Called a “Muse”?

Many great artists have been influenced by a muse, a person whose very existence inspires them to reach beyond themselves.

It literally means the inspiration a man receives from a special woman.

The word muse, as it is used in this case, comes from any of the nine beautiful daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom in Greek mythology presided over a different art or science.

Muse is the derivative of such words as music, museum, and mosaic.

The Greek Muses also gave us the English word muzzle, because before muse entered English around 1380 it was known in Old French as muser, “to ponder or loiter,” usually with your nose in the air, something all artists are familiar with.

Before that the derivative in Gallo-Romance was musa or “snout.”

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

Leave a Comment