noun quag·mire \ˈkwag-ˌmī(-ə)r, ˈkwäg-\

Definition of quagmire

  1. 1 :  soft miry land that shakes or yields under the foot

  2. 2 :  a difficult, precarious, or entrapping position :  predicament

Examples of quagmire in a sentence

  1. A Girl of the Limberlost is a Cinderella story whose wicked stepmother, in an interesting twist, is the heroine's real mother. She is a crazy person, deranged by grief for a husband who was sucked into a quagmire before her eyes when she was pregnant with Elnora. —Janet Malcolm, New York Review of Books, 15 Jan. 2009

  2. That was six months ago, when the Defense secretary laughingly dismissed the idea that Iraq was, or could turn into, a quagmire. But as Rumsfeld sat down last Friday morning to face Sen. John McCain, who spent six years in a Vietnamese prison, no one was laughing. —Michael Hirsh et al., Newsweek, 17 Nov. 2003

  3. State involvement will create a vast bioethical quagmire. Even if everyone magically agrees that improving a child's memory is as valid as avoiding dyslexia, there will still be things taxpayers aren't ready to pay for—genes of unproven benefit, say, or alterations whose downsides may exceed the upside. —Robert Wright, Time, 11 Jan.1999

  4. the party was once again facing its quadrennial quagmire: the candidate sufficiently liberal to win the nomination would be too liberal for the general election

  5. a protracted custody dispute that became a judicial quagmire

Circa 1580

First Known Use of quagmire

circa 1580

QUAGMIRE Defined for English Language Learners


noun quag·mire \ˈkwag-ˌmī(-ə)r, ˈkwäg-\

Definition of quagmire for English Language Learners

  • : an area of soft, wet ground

  • : a situation that is hard to deal with or get out of : a situation that is full of problems

QUAGMIRE Defined for Kids


noun quag·mire \ˈkwag-ˌmīr\

Definition of quagmire for Students

  1. 1 :  soft spongy wet ground that shakes or gives way under the foot

  2. 2 :  a difficult situation Repairing the old house became a costly quagmire.

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