mealy-mouthed

or meal·y·mouthed

[ mee-lee-moutht, -mouth d ]
/ ˈmi liˌmaʊθt, -ˌmaʊðd /

adjective

avoiding the use of direct and plain language, as from timidity, excessive delicacy, or hypocrisy; inclined to mince words; insincere, devious, or compromising.

Nearby words

  1. meals on wheels,
  2. mealtime,
  3. mealworm,
  4. mealy,
  5. mealy bug,
  6. mealybug,
  7. mean,
  8. mean anomaly,
  9. mean business,
  10. mean calorie

Origin of mealy-mouthed

First recorded in 1565–75

Related formsmeal·y-mouth·ed·ly [mee-lee-mou-thid-lee, -th id-, -moutht-, -mouth d-] /ˈmi liˌmaʊ θɪd li, -ðɪd-, -ˌmaʊθt-, -ˌmaʊðd-/, adverbmeal·y-mouth·ed·ness, noun

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mealy-mouthed


British Dictionary definitions for mealy-mouthed

mealy-mouthed

adjective

hesitant or afraid to speak plainly; not outspoken
Derived Formsmealy-mouthedness, noun

Word Origin for mealy-mouthed

C16: from mealy (in the sense: soft, soft-spoken)

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 mealy-mouthed

mealy-mouthed

adj.

"afraid to say what one really thinks," 1570s; first element perhaps from Old English milisc "sweet," from Proto-Germanic *meduz "honey" (see mead (n.1)), which suits the sense, but if the Old English word did not survive long enough to be the source of this, perhaps the first element is from meal (n.2) on notion of the "softness" of ground flour (cf. Middle English melishe (adj.) "friable, loose," used of soils).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper