Etymology
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mud (n.)

late 14c., mudde, "moist, soft earth," cognate with and probably from Middle Low German mudde, Middle Dutch modde "thick mud," from Proto-Germanic *mud- from PIE *(s)meu-/*mu- [Buck], found in many words denoting "wet" or "dirty" (source also of Greek mydos "damp, moisture," Old Irish muad "cloud," Polish muł "slime," Sanskrit mutra- "urine," Avestan muthra- "excrement, filth"); related to German Schmutz "dirt," which also is used for "mud" in roads, etc., to avoid dreck, which originally meant "excrement." Welsh mwd is from English. The older word is fen.

Meaning "lowest or worst of anything" is from 1580s. As a word for "coffee," it is hobo slang from 1925; as a word for "opium" from 1922. Mud-puppy "salamander" is by 1855, American English; the mud-dauber wasp was so called by 1856. The children's mud-pie is attested from 1788. Mud-flat "muddy, low-lying ground near a shore" is by 1779. Mud-room "room for removing wet or muddy footwear" is by 1938.

The expression clear as mud (that is, "not clear at all") is by 1796. To throw or hurl mud "make disgraceful accusations" is from 1762. To say (one's) name is mud and mean "(one) is discredited" is recorded from 1823, from mud in obsolete sense of "a stupid twaddling fellow" (1708). Mud in your eye as a toast is recorded from 1912, American English.

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mud-hole (n.)

also mudhole, "place full of mud," 1760, from mud (n.) + hole (n.).

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mud-flap (n.)

"piece of rubber behind the wheel of a vehicle to prevent mud from splashing," 1903, from mud (n.) + flap (n.).

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mud-bath (n.)

"mud transfused with saline or other ingredients at mineral springs, into which patients suffering from rheumatism, etc., immerse themselves," 1798, from mud (n.) + bath (n.).

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mudder (n.)
"horse that runs well in muddy conditions," 1903, from mud (n.).
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mudfish (n.)

"fish which lives or burrows in mud," c. 1500, from mud (n.) + fish (n.).

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mother (n.2)

"a thick substance concreting in liquors; the lees or scum concreted" [Johnson], 1530s, probably from Middle Dutch modder "filth, dregs," from PIE *meu- (see mud).

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muddy (adj.)

late 13c., in place names, "abounding in or covered with mud," from mud + -y (2). Meaning "not clear or pure in color" is from 1580s; extended to sounds by 1960s. Big Muddy as a nickname for the Missouri or Mississippi river is attested by 1825. Related: Muddily; muddiness.

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muddle (v.)

1590s, "destroy the clarity of" (a transferred sense); literal sense ("to bathe in mud") is from c. 1600; perhaps frequentative formation from mud, or from Dutch moddelen "to make (water) muddy," from the same Proto-Germanic source. Sense of "to make muddy" is from 1670s; that of "make confused, bewilder" is recorded by 1680s. Meaning "to bungle" is from 1885. Related: Muddled; muddling.

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stick-in-the-mud (n.)
1852, from verbal phrase, stick (v.) on notion of "one who sticks in the mud," hence "one who is content to remain in an abject condition." The phrase appears in 1730, in city of London court records, as the alias of an accused named John Baker, who with two other men received a death sentence at the Old Bailey in December 1733 for "breaking open the House of Mr. Thomas Rayner, a Silversmith, and stealing thence Plate to a great Value."
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