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

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Other Words from muddle


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


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

Examples of muddle in a Sentence


a car shopper thoroughly muddled by too much well-meaning advice some mischievous brat had muddled the household accounts


His papers were in a muddle. His mind was a muddle.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The sounds of a coastal breeze and the distant murmur of beachgoers are muddled by the hum of soft jazz music and the traffic along Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, steps from where Viola sits at a square table in an upscale restaurant. Matthew Defranks,, "Now a South Florida resident, Panthers owner Vinnie Viola hopes to remedy past errors, prepare for future," 18 June 2018 The tailwinds retailers enjoyed last year from tax cuts and brisk consumer demand will dissipate in 2019, and looming Chinese tariffs could muddle the outlook further. Matthew Boyle, The Seattle Times, "Amazon has a big advertising business. Walmart wants one too," 19 Feb. 2019 And while Wall Street estimates suggest most big banks will announce solid results, growth will be muddled because year-ago results were hit by big special charges many banks took related to the tax-law changes. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "Tax Cut Helped Banks’ Earnings Growth—But Not for Much Longer," 13 Jan. 2019 Even attempting a sure-to-fail vote carries risks for Senate Republicans, because a few Democrats up for re-election in states won by President Donald Trump could muddle the GOP’s campaign message against them by voting for middle-class tax cuts. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "House GOP Push to Extend Tax Cuts Meets Resistance in Senate," 19 July 2018 Use a muddler to break sugar cube, then muddle until sugar is almost all dissolved. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Thinking Cap Cocktail," 17 Aug. 2018 Bruce, meanwhile, has muddled his way through injuries to a wretched .613 OPS. Jack Dickey,, "A Reworked Swing Has Brandon Nimmo, Mets Smiling in Surprise Breakout Campaign," 20 June 2018 The process of catching cheaters in video games is muddled in secrecy: the more developers say, the better equipped deviants are to cheat more efficiently next time around. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "League of Legends catches cheaters by making bots fight each other," 24 Oct. 2018 Florida’s pitching situation at the College World Series is muddled, much like the weather. Mike Malloy,, "UF to rely on young pitchers as they work to extend their CWS run," 20 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The votes by legislators — one signaling a major step forward in Ukraine’s on-again off-again struggle against corruption, the other a serious setback — added to a growing sense of muddle in Kiev. Andrew Higgins, New York Times, "Ukraine Approves Anticorruption Court in Bid to Unblock Foreign Aid," 7 June 2018 The team sergeant wandered the courtyard aimlessly, his thoughts and words a muddle. Michael M. Phillips, WSJ, "‘I Think I’ve Been Shot’: Nighttime Raid in Afghanistan Reveals New U.S. Strategy," 5 Dec. 2018 This 150-calorie sip from REDBOK's Mommy Mixologist, Kim Haasarud: In a cocktail shaker, muddle 2 strawberries, 1 oz lime juice, and 1 oz sugar-free syrup, such as Monin Sugar Free Triple Sec Syrup. Redbook, "The Best Low-Cal Margaritas," 11 Aug. 2011 Combine wood sorrel leaves and stems with lime juice in a cocktail shaker; muddle. Kate Richards, Country Living, "Clover Whiskey Sour," 15 Mar. 2019 Customers order on tablet computers; the herky-jerky hardware bartenders shake, muddle and pour to an electro-R&B soundtrack, their choreography resembling a stiff, spastic tango. WSJ, "Robot Restaurants: The Good Versus the Gimmicks," 3 Oct. 2018 But then the muddle of the impeachment process began to work in Johnson’s favor. Allen C. Guelzo, WSJ, "Impeach Trump? History Counsels Against It," 25 May 2018 His decisions on racial preferences were a particular muddle that a new Court will have to clarify. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Court After Kennedy," 27 June 2018 Add basil leaves and lemon juice to a shaker and muddle, just to release the oils. 2. Liza Weisstuch,, "It’s Greek to me," 10 May 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for muddle

Last Updated

9 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for muddle

The first known use of muddle was in 1676

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More Definitions for muddle



English Language Learners Definition of muddle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to cause confusion in (someone or someone's mind)
: to mix up (something) in a confused way



English Language Learners Definition of muddle (Entry 2 of 2)

: a state of confusion or disorder
: a situation or mistake caused by confusion
: a confused mess : a disordered mixture


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 Fleischman, 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on muddle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with muddle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for muddle

Spanish Central: Translation of muddle

Nglish: Translation of muddle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of muddle for Arabic Speakers

Comments on muddle

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


to move with exaggerated bouncy motions

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