Definition of addled

1 : thrown into confusion : confused his addled brain/mind … vainly endeavouring to master some task … which, to the addled brain of the crushed boy of nineteen, was a sealed and hopeless mystery.— Charles Dickens
2 of an egg : rotten, addle She was romantic, she was sentimental, she had a passion for little secrets and mysteries—a very innocent passion, for her secrets had hitherto always been as unpractical as addled eggs.— Henry James

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for addled


bad, corrupted, decayed, decomposed, putrefied, putrid, rotten, spoiled



Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of addled in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The question is whether LeftTube—quirky, funny, and grounded in the basic laws of decency and logic—can significantly expand the audience for its politics and help offset the addled ravings of the conservative fringe. Shaan Amin, The New Republic, "Can the Left Win YouTube?," 2 July 2019 In one study, researchers found that conditions mimicking an atmospheric CO2 level of 700 parts per million (ppm) addled about half of clownfish; all the fish were affected at 850 ppm. Elizabeth Preston, Science | AAAS, "A growing sensory smog threatens the ability of fish to communicate, navigate, and survive," 20 June 2019 The new record features a Ritalin-addled melange of vibes that often feel like Rihanna leftovers. Jonny Coleman, The Hollywood Reporter, "Critic's Notebook: Madonna's Cringe-Worthy 'Madame X'," 14 June 2019 When the story gets closer to the Fox News–addled present, more familiar characters rear up from unexpected angles. Christopher Tayler, Harper's magazine, "New Books," 10 Mar. 2019 Michelle Pfeiffer has played a coke-addled trophy wife (Scarface), a poisonous narcissist (White Oleander), and a really nasty feline (Batman Returns). Jenny Bailly, Allure, "Michelle Pfeiffer’s New Fragrance Is the Perfume the Clean Beauty World Has Been Missing," 8 Apr. 2019 Set in the '60s, the movie is about two drug-addled actors who go on vacation by mistake. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Richard E. Grant's Oscar Nomination Is Long Overdue," 24 Feb. 2019 Sabrina boasts a stellar cast, most notably Lucy Davis (Etta Candy in Wonder Woman) as Sabrina's warmly addled Aunt Hilda, and Miranda Otto (Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings trilogy) as her strict, traditionalist Aunt Zelda. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," 18 Dec. 2018 On the campaign trail, Mr. Salvini had already depicted a world in which migrant drug dealers preyed on wayward teenagers in an increasingly drug-addled country. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "This Italian Town Once Welcomed Migrants. Now, It’s a Symbol for Right-Wing Politics," 7 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of addled

1599, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for addled

variant of addle entry 1, with the adjective suffix -ed entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about addled

Statistics for addled

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for addled

The first known use of addled was in 1599

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on addled

What made you want to look up addled? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!