mud·​dle | \ ˈmə-dᵊl How to pronounce muddle (audio) \
muddled; muddling\ ˈməd-​liŋ How to pronounce muddle (audio) , ˈmə-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of muddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make turbid or muddy muddled the brook with his splashings
2 : to befog or stupefy (see stupefy sense 1) especially with liquor The drink muddled him and his voice became loud and domineering.
3 : to mix confusedly muddles the household accounts
4 : to make a mess of : bungle muddled themselves into the most indefensible positions— A. N. Whitehead

intransitive verb

: to think or act in a confused aimless way She muddled along for a year before going to college.



Definition of muddle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a state of especially mental confusion
2 : a confused mess

Other Words from muddle


muddler \ ˈməd-​lər How to pronounce muddle (audio) , ˈmə-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun


muddly \ ˈməd-​lē How to pronounce muddle (audio) , ˈmə-​dᵊl-​ē \ adjective

Examples of muddle in a Sentence

Verb a car shopper thoroughly muddled by too much well-meaning advice some mischievous brat had muddled the household accounts Noun His papers were in a muddle. His mind was a muddle.
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That would seem to muddle the civilizational fissures Huntington highlighted. Damon Linker, The Week, 30 Mar. 2022 To muddle things further, Renault owns AvtoVaz along with Russian defense conglomerate Rostec, which is headed by Sergey Chemezov—a close Putin ally who has been sanctioned by Western governments. Sophie Mellor, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2022 Add simple syrup and gently muddle mint into the syrup. Jason O'bryan, Robb Report, 27 Jan. 2022 Well, after arguing, screaming and publicly shaming one another these past 10 years on baseball’s great debate whether Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserve to be elected into the Hall of Fame, leave it to David Ortiz to muddle the argument. Bob Nightengale, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2022 Comfy and stylish interior, no confusing drive modes to muddle the experience, less expensive than other premium wagons. Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 24 Jan. 2022 One of the biggest challenges of working with airborne eDNA is avoiding contamination from other sources, which could muddle results. Corryn Wetzel, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Jan. 2022 The problem is all the blockers that muddle the path to value. Shawn Herring, Forbes, 21 Dec. 2021 Studies show that even moderately high levels of the gas may muddle thinking and that improving ventilation can boost performance on cognitive tasks. The New York Times, Arkansas Online, 11 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 2017, Le Pen got herself into a muddle over a half-baked proposal to dump the euro. Arthur Goldhammer, The New Republic, 7 Apr. 2022 The exhibition is a muddle, and a skimpy one at that. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 24 Mar. 2022 Trump’s authoritarianism and the result was a muddle in which a president who clearly disdained the rule of law was consistently being presented as the victim of unhinged attacks from the left. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 17 Mar. 2022 Adding to the muddle is that since season four, new episodes of Yellowstone have premiered on the Paramount Network cable channel — which is separate from Paramount+. James Hibberd, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Feb. 2022 Our memory assigns some crisp outlines and flashing colors; others are ambiguously toned, shot through by muddle and confusion. Frank Guan, The New Yorker, 31 Jan. 2022 Goode Company’s covered patio and backyard offers heaters, comfy seating and after-work drinks such as the Fool’s Gold—a winter muddle of Bourbon, lemon, chile and honey. Robin Soslow, Chron, 5 Jan. 2022 The Labèques launched stormy runs, but the concerto often overwhelms itself, burying its details in a muddy muddle. Washington Post, 12 Nov. 2021 The Cleveland Browns beat the Bengals by 25, making a further muddle of the AFC North standings. Childs Walker,, 8 Nov. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of muddle


1676, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1808, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for muddle

Verb and Noun

probably from obsolete Dutch moddelen, from Middle Dutch, from modde mud; akin to Middle Low German mudde

Learn More About muddle

Dictionary Entries Near muddle

mud dipper


muddle along

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for muddle

Last Updated

11 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Muddle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for muddle


mud·​dle | \ ˈmə-dᵊl How to pronounce muddle (audio) \
muddled; muddling

Kids Definition of muddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to be or cause to be confused or bewildered "Haven't I so muddled their brains they want to turn you loose?"— Sid Fleishman, The Whipping Boy
2 : to mix up in a confused manner They muddled the story.
3 : to think or proceed in a confused way I somehow muddled through the task.



Kids Definition of muddle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a state of confusion

More from Merriam-Webster on muddle

Nglish: Translation of muddle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of muddle for Arabic Speakers


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