muck·​rake | \ ˈmək-ˌrāk How to pronounce muckrake (audio) \
muckraked; muckraking; muckrakes

Definition of muckrake

intransitive verb

: to search out and publicly expose real or apparent misconduct of a prominent individual or business

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Other Words from muckrake

muckraker \ ˈmək-​ˌrā-​kər How to pronounce muckraker (audio) \ noun

Muckrake and John Bunyan

The noun muckrake (literally, a rake for muck, i.e., manure) rose out of the dung heap and into the realm of literary metaphor in 1684. That's when John Bunyan used it in Pilgrim's Progress to represent man's preoccupation with earthly things. "The Man with the Muckrake," he wrote, "could look no way but downward." In a 1906 speech, President Teddy Roosevelt recalled Bunyan's words while railing against journalists he thought focused too much on exposing corruption in business and government. Roosevelt called them "the men with the muck-rakes" and implied that they needed to learn "when to stop raking the muck, and to look upward." Investigative reporters weren't insulted; they adopted the term muckraker as a badge of honor. And soon English speakers were using the verb muckrake for the practice of exposing misconduct.

Examples of muckrake in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The biggest scandal of all exploded in 2015 when opposition politicians and muckraking journalists questioned what had happened to billions of dollars that had disappeared from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the country’s state investment fund. New York Times, "A Stunning, Sudden Fall for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s ‘Man of Steal’," 15 May 2018 Years later, muckraking journalist Jack Anderson claimed that those three squirrels hadn’t been trapped. John Kelly, Washington Post, "In 1955, the White House waged warfare against some furry terrorists: squirrels," 14 Apr. 2018 Mr Wolff’s muckraking skills, cattiness, cynicism and feel for human weakness, especially among the rich and famous, make him well-qualified for the job. The Economist, "Wolff in the White House“Fire and Fury” confirms the dysfunction at the heart of the presidency," 11 Jan. 2018 It was also awarded three Pulitzer Prizes for investigative features on politics and corruption in the city, and was home to muckraking news reporters like Wayne Barrett and Tom Robbins. Lukas I. Alpert, WSJ, "Village Voice to End Print Publication, Go Online Only," 22 Aug. 2017 In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, independent media have been taken over by Kremlin-friendly figures and muckraking reporters have faced dismissals and even death. Josef Federman, The Seattle Times, "Channeling Trump? Beleaguered Netanyahu assails media," 10 Aug. 2017 In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, independent media have been taken over by Kremlin-friendly figures and muckraking reporters have faced dismissals and even death. Washington Post, "Channeling Trump? Beleaguered Netanyahu assails media," 10 Aug. 2017 Consider the case of Mexican journalist Martin Mendez Pineda, whose muckraking reporting led the federal police to threaten his life. Jenna Gilbert, Teen Vogue, "U.S. Border Agents May Be Illegally Blocking Asylum Seekers From Crossing the Border," 17 July 2017 The result is that the space for independent, muckraking journalism has shrunk further. James Hohmann, Washington Post, "The Daily 202: Europe trip shows how the Trump Doctrine is situational and always in flux," 7 July 2017

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

1879, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for muckrake

obsolete muckrake, noun, rake for dung

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The first known use of muckrake was in 1879

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Nglish: Translation of muckrake for Spanish Speakers

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

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