quag·mire | \ˈkwag-ˌmī(-ə)r, ˈkwäg- \

Definition of quagmire 

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

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

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Examples of quagmire in a Sentence

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 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 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 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 a protracted custody dispute that became a judicial quagmire
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Recent Examples on the Web

As early as 1945, Hooker employees had warned that the site could become a legal quagmire. Sam Roberts, BostonGlobe.com, "Eugene Leff, fought for New York in Love Canal case," 25 Apr. 2018 American critics, including former president Barack Obama, once suggested that Syria would prove a quagmire for Russia, which would succumb to the mission creep that has plagued U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "Russia stays in the driver’s seat in Syria," 10 July 2018 The 39th district has remained a quagmire, with six Democrats on the ballot and a Republican advantage in early voting. David Weigel, chicagotribune.com, "Primary elections: What to watch in California, Alabama, Iowa and 5 other states," 5 June 2018 There were intense disputes between the White House and the Pentagon over troop levels as the Afghanistan war began to look like a quagmire. Mattathias Schwartz, New York Times, "A Spymaster Steps Out of the Shadows," 27 June 2018 Higher education experts around the country were at a loss Friday to name another university in a similar legal quagmire. Karen Herzog, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Be open and let chips fall where they may, experts advise in UW-Oshkosh scandal," 28 Apr. 2018 Imagine what would happen if the stars were to align and James were able to beat a superior team while rescuing a storied franchise from the gloomy quagmire of mediocrity. Chris Gayomali, GQ, "The Upside of the Lakers," 2 July 2018 Or is it simply being drawn into the quagmire of Middle Eastern intrigues, used by regional powers for their own interests—and garnering little strategic benefit for its efforts? WSJ, "Why Russia’s Middle East Gamble Has a Limited Payoff," 21 June 2018 Some experts have expressed some skepticism though so far, given the lack of details and the quagmire that is the health care industry. Andrew Joseph, STAT, "Surgeon Atul Gawande selected as CEO of new health care company from Amazon, partners," 20 June 2018

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

circa 1580, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Statistics for quagmire

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for quagmire

The first known use of quagmire was circa 1580

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More Definitions for quagmire



English Language Learners Definition of quagmire

: 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


quag·mire | \ˈkwag-ˌmīr \

Kids Definition of quagmire

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

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

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Comments on quagmire

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one that holds something together

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