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By Isaac Mozeson

The M A T under your dish; the M A T R E S S under your body


MAT            MeeDTaH              Mem-Tet-Hey
ROOTS: Late Latin matta is a MAT. A MAT is 'a flat, coarse fabric of woven hemp... as a floor covering... doormat. Webster’s cites Middle English materas, and Italian materass(a) coming from Arabic al-matrah, the mat or cushion.  Perhaps MATTRESS entered English via Old French meteres.  

So that explains why the Amer. Heritage Dict. had no Indo-European (IE) “root” for MAT and MATRESS.  It’s a simple case of a borrowing from Arabic, right?   Not so fast. 

It goes deeper than that. There are too many NT and ND words of  that which is BENEATH. And the Music and Meaning of nasal-dentals, even reversals like DOWN, are too widespread.

First, there is    מטה MeeDTaH (couch, 'bed' - Genesis 45:2) and it’s natural companion  מטה  MaDTaH (down, below, under - Deuteronomy 28:43).  One naturally puts a MAT UNDER one’s dishes of food, just as one places a MAT or MATRESS beneath one’s body to sleep.

Probable extensions include:   מטוה  MaDTVeH (yarn, web - Exodus 35:25), and another mattress is heard in    מצע MaTS[A]h,  a couch or bed in Isaiah 28:20.
and English MATTRESS are already attributed to Arabic matrah (throw cushion).  There are many IE and related nasal-dental  roots at NETHER (below). 
טמן  DTaMahN is to conceal or bury underground (Genesis 35:4).

BRANCHES:  Frenchshifted a mattresstomatelas. [FA]  The German mattress is Matratze.  A second MAT is from Arabic mat, exhausted - see CHECKMATE. Throughout human history the 'bed' was more often a MATTED MATTE (mat of rushes). The Mem-Tet words above are officially linked to נטה NaDTaH (to stretch, incline, lower – see “NET).  Certainly, words focused on the MATERIAL of a matress, no longer came from a root meaning “beneath” or “bed.”
Many words for “down”, “under” and “beneath” have an N-DT root to match the M-DT of  מטה     MaDTaH (down, below, under). Sorry Australia, Down Under may be emetologically redundant.  IE “root” ndher (under) includes INFERIOR, INFERNAL, INFERNO, INFRA- and UNDER. The non-fiction UNDERLYING nasal-dental root is מטה   MaDTaH.

IE “root” ni (down) takes in BENEATH, NEST, NETHER, and UNDERNEATH (see NETHER).  NADIR, a low point, (now linked to Arabic) and NOTORNIS (Greek notos is south) are also related.  For  more 'downs' see 'UNDULATE.'
מטה     MaDTaH  appears in too many global “down” words.  Here are some nasal and dental shifts that prove that NADIR did not  have to come from the recent language we call Arabic. “Down” words include Danish and Norwegian ned, German nieder and Swedish nedat.  Finnish 'low' is matala. Welsh tan/dan means « under. »

Fernando Aedo [FA] provided many nasal-dental mat-bed-below words from various language familes. Highlights :

Semitic :
maṭû, sinking (water level)  (Akkadian)
tmA,  mat (Egyptian)  ß
tem, bed (Maya: Tzot/PNT)  ß
tom,  lowlands plain (Maya: Chic/PNT) ß
mast'a, rug, blanket, hide to sit or lie upon (Quechua/AND)
matujua, bed where many lay down (Arabela/AND)
 temuu, under, below (Cashibo/MPA) ß
hnda, nda, bed, sleeping couch (Sinhalese) M312 S-N  -- also see :NEST”
mettai, ed, cushion, quilt stuffed with cotton, sleeping-place (Tamil)
metta, mattress, bedding, quilt (Malayalam)
mette, bedding, mattress (Kannada)
med, mattress, bed (Kota)
midy, mattress, bed (Toda)
than, cloth bed-mat (Gypsy)  ß
mott, bed (North Caucasian: Chechen, Ingush)
 ǝnd, under (Armenian)
tanda, folding bed-mat (Bantu: Sukuma)
nthi, below, underneath (Bantu: Merutig)
dima, bed (Niger: Adzerma)

seats are placed under us, so there be many more like:
kitima, seat, stool, chair (Bantu: Kibosho)

Regarding “lower” and “beneath” socially, FA finds
d.ama, a man of low cast (Dravidian: Sanskrit and Marathi)
which is like the Arabic dhimmi of a low-class non-Moslem. Reversals of  מטה MaDTaH, beneath.

   For other “down” words, see ROOT, SOUTH and BASIS.  More nasal-dental resting-place words at NEST.
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