ad·​dle | \ ˈa-dᵊl How to pronounce addle (audio) \

Definition of addle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 of an egg : rotten
2 : confused


addled; addling\ ˈad-​liŋ How to pronounce addling (audio) , 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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Soon enough, the foursome are in the back of that truck in an adventure that begins as a moneymaking scheme and promises to become a heroic journey into the heart of white supremacy at its most virulent and addle-minded. Ann Hornaday, Twin Cities, "‘Sword of Trust’ is a beguiling, smart — and surprisingly deep — comedy," 25 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some intricacies lay beyond me—a hazy blur of literature about floating exchange rates and reserve currencies addled my brain. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, "The Economist Who Believes the Government Should Just Print More Money," 20 Aug. 2019 Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Destiny is soon taking part in one of Ramona’s fishing schemes, serving their clients a memory-addling cocktail of ketamine and MDMA and then stealthily palming and maxing out their credit cards. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, "Jennifer Lopez is a star reborn in ‘Hustlers,’ a smart, bracing tale of strippers turned grifters," 8 Sep. 2019 Our public servants should do what’s needed to bring the park into environmental balance and try to keep it that way by addling goose eggs every year. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Defending culling of geese; Culling angers Canadian; If the shoe fits…; Give that team a raise (7/10/19)," 10 July 2019 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about addle

Statistics for addle

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for addle

The first known use of addle was in 1652

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

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 How to pronounce addle (audio) \
addled; addling

Kids Definition of addle

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on addle

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


friendly or mild

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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!