mid-13c., muk, "animal or human excrement; cow dung and vegetable matter spread as manure," from a Scandinavian source such as Old Norse myki, mykr "cow dung," Danish møg; from Proto-Germanic *muk-, *meuk- "soft," which is perhaps related to Old English meox "dung, filth" (see mash (n.)). Meaning "unclean matter generally" is from c. 1300; that of "wet, slimy mess" is by 1766. Muck-sweat "profuse sweat" is attested from 1690s.
late 14c., mukken, "to dig in the ground," also "to remove manure;" c. 1400, "to spread manure, cover with muck," from muck (n.) or Old Norse moka (n.). Mucker "one who removes muck from stables" is attested by early 13c. as a surname. Meaning "to make dirty" is from 1832; in the figurative sense, "to make a mess of," it is from 1886; to muck about "mess around" is from 1856. To muck (something) up is by 1896 as "to dirty, soil;" 1922 as "make a mess of." Related: Mucked; mucking.
also muckraker, c. 1600, "one who rakes muck" (earliest use is in a figurative sense: "a miser"), from muck-rake "rake for scraping muck or filth" (mid-14c.), from muck (n.) + rake (n.). The figurative meaning "one who inquires into and publishes scandal and allegations of corruption among political and business leaders" was popularized 1906 in speech by President Theodore Roosevelt, in reference to the "man ... with a Muckrake in his hand" in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" (1684) who seeks worldly gain by raking filth.
The men with the muck-rakes are often indispensable to the well-being of society, but only if they know when to stop raking the muck. [T. Roosevelt, quoted in "Cincinnati Enquirer," April 15, 1906.]
Muck-rake (n.) in sense "person who hunts scandal" is attested from 1872. To muck-rake (v.) in the literal sense is from 1879; figuratively from 1910. Related: Muck-raking.
"(self-)important person," 1912, short for Chinook jargon high muck-a-muck, literally "plenty of food" from muckamuck "food" (1847), which is of unknown origin. Also mucky-muck; muckety-muck.
"act or custom of burning of the dead," 1620s, from Latin cremationem (nominative crematio), noun of action from past-participle stem of cremare "to burn, consume by fire" (also used of the dead), from PIE *krem-, extended form of root *ker- (3) "heat, fire."
The adoption of cremation would relieve us of a muck of threadbare burial-witticisms; but, on the other hand, it would resurrect a lot of mildewed old cremation-jokes that have had a rest for two thousand years. ["Mark Twain," "Life on the Mississippi," 1883]
1580s, "render (liquid) turbid or muddy by stirring up dregs or sediment," also figurative, "excite to some degree of anger, perturb," a word of uncertain origin. Perhaps it is from French rouiller "to rust, make muddy," from Old French roil "mud, muck, rust" (12c.), from Vulgar Latin *robicula, from Latin robigo "rust" (see robust). Or perhaps from Old French ruiler "to mix mortar," from late Latin regulare "to regulate" (see regulate). Or perhaps somehow imitative. An earlier borrowing of the French verb is Middle English roil "to roam or rove about" (early 14c.); also compare rile (v.), formerly the common colloquial form in the U.S. Related: Roiled; roiling.