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muddle

[muhd-l]
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verb (used with object), mud·dled, mud·dling.
  1. to mix up in a confused or bungling manner; jumble.
  2. to cause to become mentally confused.
  3. to cause to become confused or stupid with or as if with an intoxicating drink.
  4. to make muddy or turbid, as water.
  5. to mix or stir (a cocktail, chocolate, etc.).
  6. Ceramics. to smooth (clay) by rubbing it on glass.
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verb (used without object), mud·dled, mud·dling.
  1. 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.
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noun
  1. the state or condition of being muddled, especially a confused mental state.
  2. a confused, disordered, or embarrassing condition; mess.
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Verb Phrases
  1. 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.
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Origin of muddle

1540–50; mud + -le; cognate with Middle Dutch moddelen to muddy
Related formsmud·dled·ness, mud·dle·ment, nounmud·dling·ly, adverbpre·mud·dle, noun, verb (used with object), pre·mud·dled, pre·mud·dling.un·mud·dled, adjective

Synonyms

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1. confuse, botch, bungle, spoil.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for muddled

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Their own thinking was so muddled, their views of life so out of gear.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

  • No one has ever told what you are—muddled, criminally muddled.

    Howards End

    E. M. Forster

  • That morning, in his glass cage, he muddled his columns several times.

  • Ward wished devoutly that he could clear his thoughts; they were muddled.

  • Inside his muddled head, however, he was chuckling to himself.

    Lost Face

    Jack London


British Dictionary definitions for muddled

muddle

verb (tr)
  1. (often foll by up) to mix up (objects, items, etc); jumble
  2. to confuse
  3. to make (water) muddy or turbulent
  4. US to mix or stir (alcoholic drinks, etc)
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noun
  1. a state of physical or mental confusion
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Derived Formsmuddled, adjectivemuddledness or muddlement, nounmuddling, adjective, nounmuddlingly, adverbmuddly, 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

Word Origin and History for muddled

muddle

v.

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.

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muddle

n.

1818, from muddle (v.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper