In the South of France properties are often called things like Mas Pauline. What is the etymology of the word mas?

I managed to find a short definition in the Collins French to English dictionary but no etymology.

The definition is

traditional house or farm in Provence

I am not sure the restriction to Provence is accurate as I have seen the word used frequently near the Spanish border too.

  • 2
    Mas isn't a French word. The languages spoken in the South of France (Occitan languages) and Spain (Catalan) are Roman languages that share common roots. Mas in Provençal and Catalan mean "country house" from Latin mansum which also gave French manoir.
    – None
    Aug 27 '14 at 6:38
  • 2
    @Laure, what is your criteria to qualify mas as not French? It is defined in the dictionary of the French Academy. Aug 27 '14 at 7:37
  • @Unfrancophone Not my criteria really, I said "not really French". I was just trying to understand/ (imagine?) why it had been closed. The question is about etymology and bi-lingual dictionaries to where OP was directed as closure reason never give etymology. I saw that old post on meta, added a comment, and asked for the question to be reopened.
    – None
    Aug 27 '14 at 7:47
  • @Laure The close reason is written beneath the question. I closed it because there is a plausible-looking etymology in Wiktionary (even in English, the TLF and the Dictionnaire de l'Académie (which, by the way, show that this is beyond doubt a French word). Aug 27 '14 at 7:54
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    @Gilles There's no doubt it is a French word, but it is the sort of case where I think OPs should be helped in choosing a correct dictionary. If French Language is also for people who don't speak French or are learners, then a little help should be given as to which type of dictionary to use. Besides the question of why the same word is used in the south of France and in Spain should be legitimate somewhere on Stackexchange. Finding the correct information is not always obvious when you don't kn,ow where to start.
    – None
    Aug 27 '14 at 8:06

Mas has been borrowed from Provençal and Catalan which are both romance languages that belong to the Occitan family.

Provençal is spoken in Provence and Catalan in Pyrénées-Orientales. It is also spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands where it is one of the co-official languages.

It comes from late Latin mansum ("the place where one stays/remains") which also gave French manoir, masure and maison). In the Middle-Ages mas designated a farmhouse with a particular tenure in the feudal system.1

The use of the word in French to designate a country house of Provence style dates from the mid 19th century when Provence became fashionable through literary works such as Daudet's.

1. I'm not a historian and really can't go into details on that topic.


It is correct that mas comes from the Latin verb "to stay". "Mansum" is the Past Participle Passive of the Classical Latin verb "manere"(maneo,manere,mansi, mansum).

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