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verb (used without object)
  1. to study or ruminate; ponder.
verb (used with object)
  1. to think about carefully; consider (often followed by over): to mull over an idea.
  2. to make a mess or failure of.

Origin of mull1

1815–25; perhaps identical with dial. mull to crumble, pulverize; see mull4


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1. consider, weigh.


verb (used with object)
  1. to heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices for drinking, as ale or wine.

Origin of mull2

First recorded in 1610–20; origin uncertain


verb (used with object) Metallurgy.
  1. to mix (clay and sand) under a roller for use in preparing a mold.

Origin of mull4

1400–50; compare dial.: to crumble, pulverize, Middle English mollen, mullen, orig., to moisten, soften by wetting; see moil
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for mulling

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The lookout broke in on his mulling over with a sudden shout.

    A Man to His Mate

    J. Allan Dunn

  • Al fell back on an idea that he himself had been mulling over.

    Double Challenge

    James Arthur Kjelgaard

  • He had an idea or two which he had been mulling over that concerned the artist.

  • Of evenings we can court and drink liquor of my own mulling.

    Tales of the Chesapeake</p>

    George Alfred Townsend

  • The best way of mulling claret is simply to heat it with a sufficient quantity of sugar and a stick of cinnamon.

    Cups and their Customs

    George Edwin Roberts

British Dictionary definitions for mulling


  1. a mountainous island off the west coast of Scotland, in the Inner Hebrides, separated from the mainland by the Sound of Mull . Chief town: Tobermory. Pop: 2667 (2001). Area: 909 sq km (351 sq miles)


  1. (tr often foll by over) to study or ponder

Word Origin

C19: probably from muddle


  1. (tr) to heat (wine, ale, etc) with sugar and spices to make a hot drink
Derived Formsmulled, adjective

Word Origin

C17: of unknown origin


  1. a light muslin fabric of soft texture

Word Origin

C18: earlier mulmull, from Hindi malmal


  1. a layer of nonacidic humus formed in well drained and aerated soilsCompare mor

Word Origin

C20: from Danish muld; see mould ³


  1. Scot a promontory

Word Origin

C14: related to Gaelic maol, Icelandic múli
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 mulling



"ponder," 1873, perhaps from a figurative use of Middle English mullyn "grind to powder, pulverize," from molle "dust, ashes, rubbish" (c.1300), probably from Middle Dutch mul "grit, loose earth," related to mill (n.1). But Webster's (1879) defined it as "to work steadily without accomplishing much," which may connect it to earlier identical word in athletics sense of "to botch, muff" (1862). Related: Mulled; mulling.



"sweeten, spice and heat a drink," c.1600, of unknown origin, perhaps from Dutch mol, a kind of white, sweet beer, or from Flemish molle a kind of beer, and related to words for "to soften." Related: Mulled; mulling.



"promontory" (in Scottish place names), late 14c., perhaps from Old Norse muli "a jutting crag, projecting ridge (between two valleys)," which probably is identical with muli "snout, muzzle." The Norse word is related to Old Frisian mula, Middle Dutch mule, muul, Old High German mula, German Maul "muzzle, mouth." Alternative etymology traces it to Gaelic maol "brow of a hill or rock," also "bald," from Old Celtic *mailo-s (cf. Irish maol, Old Irish máel, máil, Welsh moel).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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