Now chiefly regional or poetic, mere is a lake or a pond, or sometimes the sea or an inlet of the sea, even a marsh or fen. In rare, obsolete usage, mere means a siren or mermaid, and sometimes simply mother (from Old French). A mere also indicates a boundary and is often commemorated by a place-name, such as Lake Windermere. The boundary between two fields might be marked by merestones or a mere path. In English mining terminology, mere is a linear measurement along a vein of ore, or a division of a vein of ore allocated to a miner. The etymology of mere can be traced back through a dense network of early European languages that denote, in various forms, the sea.

Patricia Hampl