From Morbius to Mordo: Why does ‘mor’ sound so sinister?

by  in Comic News Comment

What is it about the syllable “mor” that denotes villainy?

After all, at Marvel there’s Baron Mordo, the longtime enemy of Doctor Strange; Morg, the remorselss herald of Galactus; and Morbius, who lately is more misunderstood than evil. And DC Comics boasts Mordru the Merciless, the, well, merciless Lord of Chaos; Morgaine le Fey, the diabolical sorceress; Mordecai Smyt and Morax, archfiend and fiend of Hell, respectively. Oh! Plus, Morgan Edge. And those are only a handful of notables from comic books.

James Harbeck mulls over the question for The Week, rattling off Mordred (an oldie but a goodie), Voldemort, Moriarty, Mordor and others from film and literature. Acknowledging the Latin root refers to death and the Germanic “mora” to darkness, he theorizes that “mor” may be “what is sometimes called a phonestheme: a part of a word that tends to carry a certain connotation not because of etymology or formal definition but just by association.”

It’s a fascinating read, even if you have only a passing interest in language, or Dirk Morgna. No, wait — that’s Sun Boy; he’s not bad. Let’s go with Morticoccus, the sentient virus.