maud·​lin | \ ˈmȯd-lən How to pronounce maudlin (audio) \

Definition of maudlin

1 : drunk enough to be emotionally silly a mob of maudlin rummies … sing hymns— Joseph Mitchell would crack open another beer and become maudlin— Patrick Moore
2 : weakly and effusively sentimental maudlin expressions of regret

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The history of maudlin owes as much to the Bible as to the barroom. The biblical Mary Magdalene is often (though some say mistakenly) identified with the weeping sinner who washed Jesus' feet with her tears to repent for her sins. This association led to the frequent depiction of Mary Magdalene as a weeping penitent, and by the 16th century even the name Magdalene suggested teary emotion to many English speakers. It was then that maudlin, an alteration of Magdalene, appeared in the English phrase "maudlin drunk," which, as one Englishman explained in 1592, described a tearful drunken state whereby "a fellow will weepe for kindnes in the midst of his Ale and kisse you."

Examples of maudlin in a Sentence

He became maudlin and started crying like a child. a maudlin movie about a lovable tramp
Recent Examples on the Web We are also treated to several rather maudlin scenes of the father teaching his son about the fairies prior to his disappearance. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 13 June 2020 The visual bard of American solitude—not loneliness, a maudlin projection—speaks to our isolated states these days with fortuitous poignance. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 1 June 2020 And the data is coming in from several sources, giving cable news channels a maudlin kind of scoreboard as two numbers – cases and deaths – seem to change almost by the hour. Michael Tackett, USA TODAY, 25 May 2020 Directed by the Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade, this is a maudlin and predictable film, with oversimplified, kid-friendly takes on complex political issues. Devika Girish, New York Times, 16 Apr. 2020 The album was produced by Rick Rubin, whose method consists mostly of stripping songs of extraneous or maudlin elements, compressing the audio, and pumping up the volume. Amanda Petrusich, The New Yorker, 13 Apr. 2020 Marceau’s climactic exhibition before the audience of Patton’s GIs turns out to be surprisingly unimpressive and maudlin. Armond White, National Review, 27 Mar. 2020 Turner, who also wrote and produced, is mercifully unconcerned with maudlin victories or redemption. Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, 2 Apr. 2020 Pitfalls of maudlin cliché surround the subject, but Mr. Roberts has skirted them, above all through his bold choice of music. Brian Seibert, New York Times, 11 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'maudlin.' 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 maudlin

1509, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for maudlin

alteration of Mary Magdalene; from her depiction as a weeping penitent

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Time Traveler for maudlin

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The first known use of maudlin was in 1509

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Cite this Entry

“Maudlin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for maudlin



English Language Learners Definition of maudlin

: showing or expressing too much emotion especially in a foolish or annoying way

More from Merriam-Webster on maudlin

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for maudlin

Nglish: Translation of maudlin for Spanish Speakers


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