maud·​lin ˈmȯd-lən How to pronounce maudlin (audio)
: 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
: weakly and effusively sentimental
maudlin expressions of regret

Did you know?

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 even the name Magdalene came to suggest 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."

Example Sentences

He became maudlin and started crying like a child. a maudlin movie about a lovable tramp
Recent Examples on the Web The subject matter is grim, but the tone is motley and irreverent, veering from maudlin realism to campy notes on the camps. The New Yorker, 29 Nov. 2022 Sharon Horgan—the producer and writer behind Catastrophe, Divorce, Motherland, and other tales of midlife disaffection—adapted the series from a soapy Belgian drama called Clan, keeping both its central premise and its maudlin humor. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 1 Sep. 2022 But the first round of donations were largely maudlin and uncreative. Heather Hansman, Outside Online, 12 Feb. 2021 Death, the only long-term certainty for any of us, permeates these episodes, although not in an overly maudlin way. Judy Berman, Time, 28 Feb. 2022 In her more maudlin moments, George Smiley’s colleague Connie Sachs sounds like Larkin. Daniel Drake, The New York Review of Books, 5 Feb. 2022 The filmmakers lean into evolving emotional tones gracefully without being overly maudlin or saccharine. Courtney Howard, Variety, 12 Nov. 2021 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 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1509, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of maudlin was in 1509


Dictionary Entries Near maudlin

Cite this Entry

“Maudlin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition


maud·​lin ˈmȯd-lən How to pronounce maudlin (audio)
: drunk enough to be tearfully silly
: weakly and overly sentimental

More from Merriam-Webster on maudlin

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