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Word of the Day
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Definitions for mealy-mouthed

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

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Citations for mealy-mouthed
He is trying to restrict his social life, because he finds it difficult now to be even normally courteous to the self-satisfied, the place-seekers, the mealy-mouthed--and that is a fair description of polite society in Arras. Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, 1992
Mealy-mouthed may be the worst adjective one can apply to a critic, but I think the only fair answer to this question is “both.” Thomas Mallon, "Should Critics Aim to be Open-Minded or to Pass Judgment?" New York Times, August 29, 2017
Origin of mealy-mouthed
The earliest written occurrence of a form of mealy-mouthed is mealmouth (1546); mealmouthed and mealy-mouthed (also mealymouthed) appear in 1570 and 1571, respectively. German has a similar expression about avoiding direct language, Mehl im Maule behalten “to keep meal in one’s mouth,” used by the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546).