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mud·dle / ˈmədl/ • v. [tr.] bring into a disordered or confusing state: they were muddling up the cards. ∎  confuse (a person or their thoughts): I do not wish to muddle him by making him read more books. ∎  [intr.] busy oneself in a confused and ineffective way: he was muddling about in the kitchen. ∎  mix (a drink) or stir (an ingredient) into a drink. • n. [usu. in sing.] an untidy and disorganized state or collection: a muddle of French, English, Ojibwa, and a dash of Gaelic the finances were in a muddle | an admirable chairman, she cut through the confusion and muddle. ∎  a mistake arising from or resulting in confusion: a bureaucratic muddle. PHRASAL VERBS: muddle through cope more or less satisfactorily despite lack of expertise, planning, or equipment: we don't have an ultimate ambition; we just muddle through. muddle something up confuse two or more things with each other: at the time, archaeology was commonly muddled up with paleontology.DERIVATIVES: mud·dling·ly / ˈmədlinglē; ˈmədl-ing/ adv. mud·dly / ˈmədlē; ˈmədl-ē/ adj. ORIGIN: late Middle English (in the sense ‘wallow in mud’): perhaps from Middle Dutch moddelen, frequentative of modden ‘dabble in mud’; compare with mud. The sense ‘confuse’ was initially associated with alcoholic drink (late 17th cent.), giving rise to ‘busy oneself in a confused way’ and ‘jumble up’ (mid 19th cent.).

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