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 Mass MoCA’s story seem like one battle, one quagmire after another. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Mass MoCA, the World’s Biggest Contemporary Art Museum, Looks Fantastic," 23 Sep. 2020 At a time when so many people are desperate to escape the pandemic, this kind of testing holds the tantalizing promise of a pre-vaccine way out of the quagmire. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "America Is Entering a New Era of Coronavirus Testing," 28 Aug. 2020 Finally putting even one of the boats on the river would bring a form of closure to a quagmire that has dragged on since spring of 2018. Jessica Williams, NOLA.com, "After years of delays, New Orleans transit leaders eye September launch date for new ferry," 28 Aug. 2020 The virus also has created a recruiting quagmire for spring sports, when the NCAA did the same for those athletes. Richard Obert, The Arizona Republic, "Arizona football recruits could be impacted after NCAA Division I players granted extra year," 25 Aug. 2020 Of course, tax codes can change, which means the U.S. isn't doomed to sink more deeply into the quagmire of inequality, Zucman and Saez write. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "America's richest 400 families now pay a lower tax rate than the middle class," 17 Oct. 2019 Communication and negotiation are key things Don Eby is recommending amid the financial quagmire. Joe Rubino, The Denver Post, "Rent and coronavirus: Some Colorado businesses get an April break while many apartment residents face late fees," 2 Apr. 2020 The legal quagmire spun out over years and eventually ruined him. Chad Lewis, Smithsonian Magazine, "A Shipwreck Off Florida’s Coast Pits Archaeologists Against Treasure Hunters," 22 Jan. 2020 In part because of America's involvement, the Afghan conflict became a quagmire for the Soviet Union, costing Moscow billions of dollars and dealing a blow to the reputation of its Red Army. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Do 'bounties' on US troops in Afghanistan reflect a line crossed or 'nothing new' in long US-Russia history?," 4 July 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

30 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quagmire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quagmire. Accessed 22 Oct. 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on quagmire

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quagmire

Nglish: Translation of quagmire for Spanish Speakers

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