ad·​dle | \ˈa-dᵊl \

Definition of addle 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 of an egg : rotten

2 : confused


addled; addling\ˈad-​liŋ, ˈa-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of addle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to throw into confusion : confound

intransitive verb

1 : to become rotten : spoil

2 : to become confused

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Examples of addle in a Sentence


my brain grew more and more addle as I made my way through the tax instructions


It's a dangerous poison that's strong enough to addle the brain. Their brains were addled with fear.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

And now the web-addled among us can pay to have the internet taken away from us, in some form of retreat. Carrie Battan, Harper's BAZAAR, "Escaping the Seduction of Your Smartphone," 26 July 2018 Amateurs are flooding the internet; piracy has addled the once-dominant studios; production has atomized and scattered. Amanda Hess, New York Times, "‘Who Gets to Be Sexy?’," 5 May 2018 As for Claire Denis, anybody new to her methods will be addled by her breaking and stretching of the rules. Michelle Mcnamara, The New Yorker, "“Avengers: Infinity War” and “Let the Sunshine In”," 27 Apr. 2018 This drug-addled, free-spirited nomad can't come up with a name for her unplanned baby. Amy Shearn, Redbook, "The Best & Worst Mothers in Our Favorite Books," 2 Apr. 2013 The deal was addled by the U.K.'s surprise vote to leave the European Union and disagreement over where the combined company's headquarters should be based. Will Hadfield And Viren Vaghela,, "CME Group takes over Britain's Nex for $5.4B, creating trading venue behemoth," 29 Mar. 2018 The deal was addled by the U.K.’s surprise vote to leave the European Union and disagreement over where the combined company’s headquarters should be based. Will Hadfield,, "CME to Buy Spencer’s NEX to Create Trading Venue Behemoth," 29 Mar. 2018 All of the destruction Ferguson rained down on itself for the year that followed sprang from that one errant decision: An incensed 18-year-old, his mind addled by cannabis, gave a police officer no choice. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Ferguson: A Dramatist Corrects Journalists," 2 Nov. 2017 Mike sought escape through a mind-addling use of Dust-Off, cans of compressed air used to clear debris from computer keyboards. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "Brothers in Arms: The Tragedy in Small-Town America," 23 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'addle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of addle


1682, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1652, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for addle


Middle English adel- (in adel eye "putrid egg"), attributive use of Old English adela "filth, filthy or foul-smelling place," going back to Germanic *adela-, *adelōn- (whence Middle Dutch ael "liquid manure," Middle Low German ādel, ādele, Middle High German —east Upper German— adel, regional Swedish adel, al "animal urine"), of obscure origin


probably back-formation from addled

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Statistics for addle

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Time Traveler for addle

The first known use of addle was in 1652

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More Definitions for addle



English Language Learners Definition of addle

: to make (someone's mind or brain) unable to think clearly


ad·​dle | \ˈa-dᵊl \
addled; addling

Kids Definition of addle

: to make or become confused She was addled by the many detours.

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More from Merriam-Webster on addle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with addle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for addle

Spanish Central: Translation of addle

Nglish: Translation of addle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of addle for Arabic Speakers

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