tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental: a maudlin story of a little orphan and her lost dog.
foolishly or mawkishly sentimental because of drunkenness.

Origin of maudlin

1500–10; special use of Maudlin, Middle English MaudelenLate Latin Magdalēnē < Greek Magdalēnḗ Mary Magdalene, portrayed in art as a weeping penitent
Related formsmaud·lin·ism, nounmaud·lin·ly, adverbmaud·lin·ness, nounun·maud·lin, adjectiveun·maud·lin·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for maudlin

Contemporary Examples of maudlin

Historical Examples of maudlin

  • I thought you scoffed at all baritones, and only delighted in maudlin tenors and anticking sopranos.

    The Dominant Strain

    Anna Chapin Ray

  • The men of Lewis and Skye tackled the liquid bounty with great glee, and soon were in a state of maudlin intoxication.

  • The maudlin stockman had indeed to be restrained by his neighbors from precipitating himself upon the barrels of Stingaree.


    E. W. (Ernest William) Hornung

  • One moment he was in maudlin tears and the next he was cracking some miserable joke about the disaster.

    The Johnstown Horror

    James Herbert Walker

  • Gorki's cheap sentiment, and maudlin pity, often result in clap-trap and padding which are foreign to the artist proper.

    Maxim Gorki

    Hans Ostwald

British Dictionary definitions for maudlin



foolishly tearful or sentimental, as when drunk
Derived Formsmaudlinism, nounmaudlinly, adverbmaudlinness, noun

Word Origin for maudlin

C17: from Middle English Maudelen Mary Magdalene, typically portrayed as a tearful penitent
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 maudlin

c.1600, "tearful," from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman's name, originally surname of Mary the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii:37 (see Magdalene). In paintings, she often was shown weeping as a sign of repentance. Meaning "characterized by tearful sentimentality" is recorded by 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper