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.
updated on March 14, 2019