quag·​mire | \ ˈkwag-ˌmī(-ə)r How to pronounce quagmire (audio) , ˈkwäg- How to pronounce quagmire (audio) \

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 Legal experts are watching to see how the courts will sort out the legal quagmire, complicated by the absence of any case law. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "These North Texas businesses bought insurance, only to learn coronavirus-related losses aren’t covered," 10 May 2020 This is always a logistical quagmire, but the pandemic may create a situation in which people crowding into evacuation shelters could inadvertently cause spikes in COVID-19 cases. Robin George Andrews, The Atlantic, "What Happens If a ‘Big One’ Strikes During the Pandemic?," 9 May 2020 Lessons Learned From Vietnam Vietnam was a conundrum trapped inside of a quagmire—in more ways than one. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "Why the F-15 Is Such a Badass Plane," 17 Apr. 2020 The late 1960s are widely regarded as a turning point: Israel’s show of force in the 1967 Six-Day War came as American society was shifting toward a politics of identity and ethnicity and as its military was sinking into the Vietnam quagmire. Ethan Bronner, The New York Review of Books, "Stuck," 12 Mar. 2020 Using an executive order to reorganize the education board last time landed Beshear in a quagmire. Olivia Krauth, The Courier-Journal, "Could the Kentucky Board of Education be ousted while schools are closed over pandemic?," 2 Apr. 2020 Indeed, this may be the medical quagmire of our time. Ed Silverman, STAT, "We shouldn’t rush to use an unproven drug to treat the coronavirus," 31 Mar. 2020 Afridi’s imprisonment has also sent his family spiraling into poverty and an extreme security quagmire. Hollie Mckay, Fox News, "'Hero' doctor Shakil Afridi who helped find bin Laden launches hunger strike behind bars after 'losing hope for justice,' lawyer says," 5 Mar. 2020 But that approach wasn't going to work for Facebook—which meant that Facebook could find itself in a regulatory quagmire, trying to simultaneously satisfy hundreds of different regulatory agencies around the world. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Facebook denies reports it is backing away from Libra cryptocurrency," 3 Mar. 2020

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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Time Traveler for quagmire

Time Traveler

The first known use of quagmire was circa 1580

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Statistics for quagmire

Last Updated

25 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quagmire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quagmire. Accessed 27 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for quagmire


How to pronounce quagmire (audio) How to pronounce quagmire (audio)

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 How to pronounce quagmire (audio) \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on quagmire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quagmire

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quagmire

Spanish Central: Translation of quagmire

Nglish: Translation of quagmire for Spanish Speakers

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