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[ad-l] /ˈæd l/
verb (used with or without object), addled, addling.
to make or become confused.
to make or become rotten, as eggs.
mentally confused; muddled.
addle eggs.
Origin of addle
before 1000; Middle English adel rotten, Old English adela liquid, filth; cognate with Middle Low German adele liquid manure
Related forms
unaddled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for addle
Historical Examples
  • My head, too, is as addle as an egg this morning, with dining abroad yesterday.

  • The fumes of the wine were mounting steadily to addle his indifferent brains.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • My strong ale must have got into your addle pate with a vengeance.

    Windsor Castle William Harrison Ainsworth
  • One drink will addle a person's wits and the second will act as an antidote.

    Death Makes A Mistake P.F. Costello
  • "Don't sit on them with your head downward, or you'll addle them," said Mr. Brush, fiercely.

    Peg Woffington Charles Reade
  • And ever since he had been repeating to himself, “What do they addle?”

    A Month in Yorkshire Walter White
  • I'm not behowden to ye for mich, as how 'tis—I reckon I addle my mate.

    North, South and Over the Sea M.E. Francis (Mrs. Francis Blundell)
  • As the sayin' is: 'The tongue of a woman, at last it biteth like a serpent an' it stingeth like an addle,' an' I guess it's so.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • Thy head is as full of quarrels as an egg is full of meat, and yet thy head hath been beaten as addle as an egg for quarrelling.

  • Party debate will addle your pate, ex-parte "facts" bring dizziness.

British Dictionary definitions for addle


to make or become confused or muddled
to make or become rotten
(in combination) indicating a confused or muddled state: addle-brained, addle-pated
Word Origin
C18: (vb), back formation from addled, from c13 addle rotten, from Old English adela filth; related to dialect German Addel liquid manure


(Northern English, dialect) to earn (money or one's living)
Word Origin
C13: addlen, from Old Norse öthlask to gain possession of property, from ōthal property
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for addle

1712, from addle (n.) "urine, liquid filth," from Old English adela "mud, mire, liquid manure" (cognate with Old Swedish adel "urine," Middle Low German adel, Dutch aal "puddle").

Used in noun phrase addle egg (mid-13c.) "egg that does not hatch, rotten egg," literally "urine egg," a loan-translation of Latin ovum urinum, which is itself an erroneous loan-translation of Greek ourion oon "putrid egg," literally "wind egg," from ourios "of the wind" (confused by Roman writers with ourios "of urine," from ouron "urine"). Because of this usage, from c.1600 the noun in English was taken as an adjective meaning "putrid," and thence given a figurative extension to "empty, vain, idle," also "confused, muddled, unsound" (1706). The verb followed a like course. Related: Addled; addling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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