verb (used with object)

verb (used without object)

to move around aimlessly, slowly, or confusedly, as a herd of cattle (often followed by about or around).
Slang. to fight or box.

Nearby words

  1. milkwood,
  2. milkwort,
  3. milky,
  4. milky disease,
  5. milky way,
  6. mill chisel,
  7. mill construction,
  8. mill end,
  9. mill on the floss, the,
  10. mill scale


    through the mill, Informal. undergoing or having undergone severe difficulties, trials, etc., especially with an effect on one's health, personality, or character: He's really been through the mill since his wife's death.

Origin of mill

before 950; Middle English milne, mille (noun), Old English myl(e)n < Late Latin molīna, noun use of feminine of molīnus of a mill, equivalent to Latin mol(a) mill + -īnus -ine1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for through the mill




a building in which grain is crushed and ground to make flour
a factory, esp one which processes raw materialsa steel mill
any of various processing or manufacturing machines, esp one that grinds, presses, or rolls
any of various small hand mills used for grinding pepper, salt, or coffee for domestic purposesSee also coffee mill, pepper mill
a hard roller for impressing a design, esp in a textile-printing machine or in a machine for printing banknotes
a system, institution, etc, that influences people or things in the manner of a factorygoing through the educational mill
an unpleasant experience; ordeal (esp in the phrases go or be put through the mill)
a fist fight
run of the mill ordinary or routine


(tr) to grind, press, or pulverize in or as if in a mill
(tr) to process or produce in or with a mill
to cut or roll (metal) with or as if with a milling machine
(tr) to groove or flute the edge of (a coin)
(intr; often foll by about or around) to move about in a confused manner
(usually tr) rare to beat (chocolate, etc)
archaic, slang to fight, esp with the fists
Derived Formsmillable, adjective

Word Origin for mill

Old English mylen from Late Latin molīna a mill, from Latin mola mill, millstone, from molere to grind




a US and Canadian monetary unit used in calculations, esp for property taxes, equal to one thousandth of a dollar

Word Origin for mill

C18: short for Latin mīllēsimum a thousandth (part)



James. 1773–1836, Scottish philosopher, historian, and economist. He expounded Bentham's utilitarian philosophy in Elements of Political Economy (1821) and Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind (1829) and also wrote a History of British India (1817–18)
his son, John Stuart. 1806–73, English philosopher and economist. He modified Bentham's utilitarian philosophy in Utilitarianism (1861) and in his treatise On Liberty (1859) he defended the rights and freedom of the individual. Other works include A System of Logic (1843) and Principles of Political Economy (1848)
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 through the mill
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with through the mill

through the mill

Hardship or rough treatment, as in They put him through the mill, making him work at every one of the machines, or Jane was exhausted; she felt she'd been through the mill. This term alludes to being ground down like grain in a mill. [Late 1800s]


see grist for the mill; mills of the gods grind slowly; run of the mill; through the mill; tilt at windmills.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.