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[muhd-l] /ˈmʌd l/
verb (used with object), muddled, muddling.
to mix up in a confused or bungling manner; jumble.
to cause to become mentally confused.
to cause to become confused or stupid with or as if with an intoxicating drink.
to make muddy or turbid, as water.
to mix or stir (a cocktail, chocolate, etc.).
Ceramics. to smooth (clay) by rubbing it on glass.
verb (used without object), muddled, muddling.
to behave, proceed, or think in a confused or aimless fashion or with an air of improvisation:
Some people just muddle along, waiting for their big break.
the state or condition of being muddled, especially a confused mental state.
a confused, disordered, or embarrassing condition; mess.
Verb phrases
muddle through, to achieve a certain degree of success but without much skill, polish, experience, or direction:
None of us knew much about staging a variety show, so we just had to muddle through.
Origin of muddle
1540-50; mud + -le; cognate with Middle Dutch moddelen to muddy
Related forms
muddledness, muddlement, noun
muddlingly, adverb
premuddle, noun, verb (used with object), premuddled, premuddling.
unmuddled, adjective
1. confuse, botch, bungle, spoil. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for muddle
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What makes the muddle is that she isn't clear about the creature she wants most.

    The Tragic Muse Henry James
  • She had made a muddle of it she felt, and her chances of success were slim indeed.

    The Man from the Bitter Roots Caroline Lockhart
  • I've tried to write verses myself, but I always get into a muddle, and give it up.

    Mountain-Laurel and Maidenhair Louisa May Alcott
  • The administration was, as it always had been, a chaos of muddle.

    The World Peril of 1910 George Griffith
  • Nothing is left to chance or muddle in Berlin, and unless you are a born fool you cannot go astray.

    Home Life in Germany Mrs. Alfred Sidgwick
British Dictionary definitions for muddle


verb (transitive)
(often foll by up) to mix up (objects, items, etc); jumble
to confuse
to make (water) muddy or turbulent
(US) to mix or stir (alcoholic drinks, etc)
a state of physical or mental confusion
Derived Forms
muddled, adjective
muddledness, muddlement, noun
muddling, adjective, noun
muddlingly, adverb
muddly, adjective
Word Origin
C16: perhaps from Middle Dutch moddelen to make muddy
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 muddle

1590s, "destroy the clarity of" (a transferred sense); literal sense ("to bathe in mud") is from c.1600; perhaps frequentative formation from mud, or from Dutch moddelen "to make (water) muddy," from the same Proto-Germanic source. Sense of "to make muddy" is from 1670s; that of "make confused" first recorded 1680s. Meaning "to bungle" is from 1885. Related: Muddled; muddling.


1818, from muddle (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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muddle in Technology

Original name of MDL.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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