Hugger-mugger

Hugger-mugger

ˈhəɡərˌməɡər

Noun

  • Confusion; muddle.
  • Secrecy.

Adjective

  • Confused; disorderly.
  • Secret; clandestine.

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Example Sentences

“The gallery wall featured paintings and other objects hung in a hugger-mugger fashion.”

“His motives were unclear, and his hugger-mugger requests made me suspicious.”

“The tourists were confused by the vast hugger-mugger of the city’s subway system.”

Word Origin

Uncertain, early 16th century

Why this word?

The origins of this word are a bit hugger-mugger themselves. Some linguists believe it was likely cobbled together from the word “huddle” (“to crowd together”) and the slang term “mucker” (“to hoard money, conceal”). Several terms, spanning from Late Middle English to the 16th century, share a similar construction and meaning: “hucker-mucker” and “hudder-mudder” both mean “secrecy, concealment.” To employ “hugger-mugger,” use it as either a noun or an adjective, representing secrecy or a sense of confusion and mess. For example, a mother might complain to her teenager: “The hugger-mugger mess in your bedroom makes me think you have some sort of hugger-mugger to hide.”

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