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hugger-mugger

[huhg-er-muhg-er] /ˈhʌg ərˌmʌg ər/
noun
1.
disorder or confusion; muddle.
2.
secrecy; reticence:
Why is there such hugger-mugger about the scheme?
adjective
3.
secret or clandestine.
4.
disorderly or confused.
verb (used with object)
5.
to keep secret or concealed; hush up.
verb (used without object)
6.
to act secretly.
Origin of hugger-mugger
1520-1530
1520-30; earlier hucker-mucker, rhyming compound based on mucker, Middle English mokeren to hoard
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hugger-mugger
Historical Examples
  • Still, everything drifts on to these hugger-mugger large enterprises; Chicago spreads over the world.

    The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman H. G. (Herbert George) Wells
  • Muddle flies before it, and hugger-mugger becomes a thing unknown.

    Character Samuel Smiles
  • All that set you were brought up in—why, one only had to look at them to see what a hugger-mugger way they probably lived.

    Vera Elisabeth von Arnim
  • The trouble was his “hugger-mugger” management, as Carlyle expressed it.

  • Mr Bethany tossed the hugger-mugger of pamphlets across the table.

    The Return Walter de la Mare
  • They may hugger-mugger it this way and that; but this Mr. Ralph can't be like t'other young gentleman.

    Ralph the Heir Anthony Trollope
  • Let alone his meals being all hugger-mugger and comfortless.

    Mary Barton Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • They can't do it,—by Act of Parliament,—except in a hugger-mugger left-handed way, that wouldn't suit you at all.

    The Duke's Children Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for hugger-mugger

hugger-mugger

/ˈhʌɡəˌmʌɡə/
noun
1.
confusion
2.
(rare) secrecy
adjective, adverb (archaic)
3.
with secrecy
4.
in confusion
verb (obsolete)
5.
(transitive) to keep secret
6.
(intransitive) to act secretly
Word Origin
C16: of uncertain origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hugger-mugger

also huggermugger, "secretly," 1520s, one of a number of similar-sounding reduplicated words in use around this time and meaning much the same thing, including hucker-mucker, which may be the original of the bunch if the root is, as some think, Middle English mukre "to hoard up, conceal." Also cf. Middle English hukmuck, late 15c., name of some sort of device for cleansing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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