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I was wondering about that: the New Oxford American Dictionary says to muse comes from the French muser, which comes from the Latin musum. The Muse comes form the Latin musa, which comes from the Greek mousa. Those sound close, but my Latin is too weak (and my Greek inexistent) to tell if they were related back in the antique days.

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On a related note, I've established that museum comes from the same root as Muse: “via Latin from Greek mouseion (seat of the Muses), based on mousa (Muse).” –  F'x Mar 11 '11 at 14:45
today's "who knew?" question, good one. And here's everyone's favorite noun-Muse: (now thirty-five years ago!) Obviously, Jeff Lynne's sound is still 50 years ahead of anything today, and what about those glow graphics and effects as the girls turn real! Historic video! –  Joe Blow Aug 10 at 14:27

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Etymonline says this about that:

muse "to be absorbed in thought," mid-14c., from O.Fr. muser (12c.) "to ponder, loiter, waste time," lit. "to stand with one's nose in the air" (or, possibly, "to sniff about" like a dog who has lost the scent), from muse "muzzle," from Gallo-Romance *musa "snout," of unknown origin. Probably influenced in sense by muse (n.). Related: Mused; musing.

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Wow! Without this I'd certainly have succumbed to folk etymology. It gets hard when analogy and folk etymology actually change the words themselves. +1 –  Cerberus Mar 11 '11 at 14:56
I am also surprised. –  Colin Fine Mar 11 '11 at 15:50
This issue seems fascinating, but I still totally don't understand which is which! –  Joe Blow Aug 10 at 14:21

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