adjective, adverb British Slang.

Origin of mucking

First recorded in 1595–1605; muck + -ing2




moist farmyard dung, decaying vegetable matter, etc.; manure.
a highly organic, dark or black soil, less than 50 percent combustible, often used as a manure.
mire; mud.
filth, dirt, or slime.
defamatory or sullying remarks.
a state of chaos or confusion: to make a muck of things.
Chiefly British Informal. something of no value; trash.
(especially in mining) earth, rock, or other useless matter to be removed in order to get out the mineral or other substances sought.

verb (used with object)

to manure.
to make dirty; soil.
to remove muck from (sometimes followed by out).
  1. to ruin; bungle (often followed by up).
  2. to put into a state of complete confusion (often followed by up).

Verb Phrases

muck about/around, Informal. to idle; waste time; loiter.

Origin of muck

1200–50; Middle English muc, muk < Old Norse myki cow dung Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mucking

Contemporary Examples of mucking

  • His scapegoats then, as now, were the United States and Europe, which he blamed for mucking about in his backyard.

  • The Senate Finance Committee has rolled up its sleeves this week, and is mucking about in the fine print of amendments.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Death of Death Panels

    Benjamin Sarlin

    September 29, 2009

  • Did you consult study any guides as you were mucking your way through?

    The Daily Beast logo
    Is God Evil?

    The Daily Beast

    March 11, 2009

Historical Examples of mucking

  • Yes, you've taken to mucking your work—doing it in a most slovenly way.


    Emile Zola

  • But what's the good of my mucking about in a filthy uniform?

  • We got the idea from the British Tommy, only he calls it "mucking it."

  • "I don't mean to have any one else mucking around," growled Dunn in answer.

  • Roving and changing and mucking about in crowds—no; I was fed up with that when he sent me away to school.

British Dictionary definitions for mucking



farmyard dung or decaying vegetable matter
Also called: muck soil an organic soil rich in humus and used as a fertilizer
dirt or filth
earth, rock material, etc, removed during mining excavations
slang, mainly British rubbish
make a muck of slang, mainly British to ruin or spoil

verb (tr)

to spread manure upon (fields, gardens, etc)
to soil or pollute
(often foll by out) to clear muck from

Word Origin for muck

C13: probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse myki dung, Norwegian myk
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 mucking



mid-13c., "cow dung and vegetable matter spread as manure," from a Scandinavian source, cf. Old Norse myki, mykr "cow dung," Danish møg, from Proto-Germanic *muk-, *meuk- "soft." Meaning "unclean matter generally" is from c.1300. Muck-sweat first attested 1690s.



late 14c., "to dig in the ground," also "to remove manure," early 15c., "to spread manure, cover with muck," from muck (n.). Meaning "to make dirty" is from 1832; in the figurative sense, "to make a mess of," it is from 1886; to muck about "mess around" is from 1856. Related: Mucked; mucking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper