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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 through
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When we are confronted with great issues, it is our habit, or so we are fond of saying, to 'muddle through'.

    The War in the Air; Vol. 1 Walter Raleigh.
  • So I say to you: muddle through your worries quickly, kjaere.

    Katharine Frensham Beatrice Harraden
  • Somehow, and despite every conceivable obstacle, it had managed to muddle through, and now it was ready for its work.

  • We did not know the situation, and we had bought Berande, and there was nothing to do but hang on and muddle through somehow.

    Adventure Jack London
  • The allied peoples were meanwhile content to muddle through in the old way.

    England and Germany Emile Joseph Dillon
  • The less you try to muddle through by means of poor human instruments in this well-ordered world the better.

    Behind the Mirrors Clinton W. Gilbert
  • We can only muddle through difficulties, and help others to do the same.

    Katharine Frensham Beatrice Harraden
British Dictionary definitions for muddle through

muddle through

(intransitive, adverb) (mainly Brit) to succeed in some undertaking in spite of lack of organization


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 through



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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Idioms and Phrases with muddle through

muddle through

Blunder through something, manage but awkwardly, as in The choir never knows how to line up, but we muddle through somehow. [ Early 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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