From Middle Dutch moddelen (to make muddy), from modde, mod (mud) (Modern Dutch modder). Compare German Kuddelmuddel.


  • IPA(key): /ˈmʌdəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌdəl


muddle (third-person singular simple present muddles, present participle muddling, simple past and past participle muddled)

  1. To mix together, to mix up; to confuse.
    Young children tend to muddle their words.
    • 1847, Francis William Newman, A History of the Hebrew Monarchy
      I will not , to please hostile critics , muddle the argument by making it one of recondite learning , in which neither I nor my readers are strong . I try to lay before the reader reasons from which he can judge for himself
  2. To mash slightly for use in a cocktail.
    He muddled the mint sprigs in the bottom of the glass.
  3. To dabble in mud.
    • c. 1721-1722, Jonathan Swift, The Progress of Marriage
      Young ducklings foster'd by a hen;
      But, when let out, they run and muddle
  4. To make turbid or muddy.
  5. To think and act in a confused, aimless way.
  6. To cloud or stupefy; to render stupid with liquor; to intoxicate partially.
    • 1692, Richard Bentley, A Confutation of Atheism
      Their old master Epicurus seems to have had his brains so muddled and confounded with them, that he scarce ever kept in the right way.
    • 1712, John Arbuthnot, The History of John Bull
      often drunk, always muddled
  7. To waste or misuse, as one does who is stupid or intoxicated.
    • 1821, William Hazlitt, On the Want of Money
      They muddle it [money] away without method or object, and without having anything to show for it.

Derived termsEdit



muddle (plural muddles)

  1. A mixture; a confusion; a garble.
    The muddle of nervous speech he uttered did not have much meaning.
  2. (cooking and cocktails) A mixture of crushed ingredients, as prepared with a muddler.


Derived termsEdit