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

On Danny Shelton’s sack, Bentley stayed in coverage and muddled the middle of the defense, taking away a Savage safety valve. Jim Mcbride,, "Patriots’ Ja’Whaun Bentley looks ready to contribute," 11 Aug. 2019 America has grown healthily and the rest of the world has muddled along. The Economist, "Dangerous miscalculations," 8 Aug. 2019 Eliding an explanation of the roles of major and minor players often muddles the narrative; a case in point is the sequence about who bears responsibility for overcrowding on the floating piers. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: Observing Christo’s balancing act in ‘Walking on Water’," 11 July 2019 Friendships and location have also heavily influenced recent player movement, which muddles the picture about which factors mean the most in free agency. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Are Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant and LeBron James Too Powerful?," 8 July 2019 The following year, the quarterback picture was muddled, and some teams saw Jared Goff and Carson Wentz as reaches at the top of the draft. Albert Breer,, "The 2020 NFL Draft Conversation Starts With the Quarterbacks," 8 July 2019 Refuse to let your emotions muddle your mind and cause a mishap. Eugenia Last, The Mercury News, "Horoscopes: June 26, 2019," 26 June 2019 But the story for this film — which essentially centers around the two agents deducing who’s involved in a conspiracy to destroy Earth — is hopeless, confusing, and muddled. Josh Spiegel, The Hollywood Reporter, "The Hidden Potential of 'Men in Black: International'," 15 June 2019 The health-conscious, soul-food inspired restaurant first muddles pineapple fruit and then shakes it up with rum, pineapple juice, and coconut milk. Grace Dickinson,, "The six summery drinks you need to try in Philadelphia this season," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Nearly massless neutrinos muddle a mathematical symmetry in the standard model, Parke explains. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Resurrected detector will hunt for some of the strangest particles in the universe," 8 Aug. 2019 The staging seemed a bit disorganized in the early going, though splashy video helped distract from the choreographic muddles. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Hugh Jackman sings, dances and charms, delivering a grand time at the Hollywood Bowl," 21 July 2019 Bannon was overwhelmed and embarrassed by her financial muddle — but her biggest stumbling block? Susan Moeller,, "The 7 stupidest things we do with money," 13 June 2019 The apparently hedonistic culture that emerged before World War I was a muddle of flagrant gestures toward personal liberation and subtle new forms of social coercion. The New York Review of Books, "Jackson Lears," 7 Feb. 2019 Don’t overlook Bilavarn’s papaya salad, a crisp, fragrant muddle underscored with the pungency of shrimp paste and fish sauce. Patricia Escárcega,, "Patricia Escárcega’s five favorite restaurants that she reviewed this year (so far)," 3 July 2019 Repetitive rhythms of tension muddle shocking scares into crowd-pleasing familiarity. Darren Franich,, "Annabelle Comes Home pushes the Conjuring universe toward absurdity: EW review," 24 June 2019 Thursday's ruling adds to the muddle of past Supreme Court decisions on the acceptability of public displays or expressions of religious faith. Pete Williams, NBC News, "Supreme Court rules giant cross to veterans on public land is not gov't endorsement of religion," 20 June 2019 Mile Kitchen celebrates Independence Day with The Acai, made with acai juice, light agave nectar, lemon juice, club soda, topped with a spoonful of blackberry-acai juice muddle, and garnished with a lemon wheel and mint sprig. San Diego Union-Tribune, "The Dish: 34 places you can eat, drink and hang out this Independence Day," 27 June 2019

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

15 Aug 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

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