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mealy-mouthed

or meal·y·mouthed

[mee-lee-moutht, -mouth d]
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adjective
  1. avoiding the use of direct and plain language, as from timidity, excessive delicacy, or hypocrisy; inclined to mince words; insincere, devious, or compromising.
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Origin of mealy-mouthed

First recorded in 1565–75
Related formsmeal·y-mouth·ed·ly [mee-lee-mou-thid-lee, -th id-, -moutht-, -mouth d-] /ˈmi liˌmaʊ θɪd li, -ðɪd-, -ˌmaʊθt-, -ˌmaʊðd-/, adverbmeal·y-mouth·ed·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mealy-mouthed

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • We ain't as mealy-mouthed and as p'lite and as smooth-tongued as the moderns.

    One Of Them

    Charles James Lever

  • Why are we so mealy-mouthed in denouncing these golden-idol men?

    Broken Bread

    Thomas Champness

  • I s'pose you've been pumping that mealy-mouthed landlubber of a Dolph.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman

    Albert Walter Tolman

  • But the visual image in the masterly original Greek is not so mealy-mouthed.

  • He was not straitlaced, or mealy-mouthed, or overburthened with scruples.

    Orley Farm

    Anthony Trollope


British Dictionary definitions for mealy-mouthed

mealy-mouthed

adjective
  1. hesitant or afraid to speak plainly; not outspoken
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Derived Formsmealy-mouthedness, noun

Word Origin

C16: from mealy (in the sense: soft, soft-spoken)
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

Word Origin and History for mealy-mouthed

adj.

"afraid to say what one really thinks," 1570s; first element perhaps from Old English milisc "sweet," from Proto-Germanic *meduz "honey" (see mead (n.1)), which suits the sense, but if the Old English word did not survive long enough to be the source of this, perhaps the first element is from meal (n.2) on notion of the "softness" of ground flour (cf. Middle English melishe (adj.) "friable, loose," used of soils).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper