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or mealymouthed

[mee-lee-moutht, -mouth d] /ˈmi liˌmaʊθt, -ˌmaʊðd/
avoiding the use of direct and plain language, as from timidity, excessive delicacy, or hypocrisy; inclined to mince words; insincere, devious, or compromising.
Origin of mealy-mouthed
First recorded in 1565-75
Related forms
[mee-lee-mou-thid-lee, -th id-, -moutht-, -mouth d-] /ˈmi liˌmaʊ θɪd li, -ðɪd-, -ˌmaʊθt-, -ˌmaʊðd-/ (Show IPA),
mealy-mouthedness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for mealy-mouthed
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Never creature, but mealy-mouthed inquisitors, and shaven singing birds.

    The Saint's Tragedy Charles Kingsley
  • We ain't as mealy-mouthed and as p'lite and as smooth-tongued as the moderns.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • I s'pose you've been pumping that mealy-mouthed landlubber of a Dolph.

    Jim Spurling, Fisherman Albert Walter Tolman
  • The days of mealy-mouthed suavity had not yet come to the Faculty.

    A Book about Doctors John Cordy Jeaffreson
  • Lady Dunborough was not mealy-mouthed, nor one of those who mince matters.

    The Castle Inn Stanley John Weyman
  • Howsever, when theyre a settled, Ill no be mealy-mouthed wi them.

    The Entail John Galt
  • Why are we so mealy-mouthed in denouncing these golden-idol men?

    Broken Bread Thomas Champness
  • What's more, there was the mealy-mouthed Marvell to reckon with.

    Memoirs of a Midget Walter de la Mare
British Dictionary definitions for mealy-mouthed


hesitant or afraid to speak plainly; not outspoken
Derived Forms
mealy-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
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Word Origin and History for mealy-mouthed

"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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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