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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
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. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for huggermugger

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 huggermugger

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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