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[mawd-lin] /ˈmɔd lɪn/
tearfully or weakly emotional; foolishly sentimental:
a maudlin story of a little orphan and her lost dog.
foolishly or mawkishly sentimental because of drunkenness.
Origin of maudlin
1500-10; special use of Maudlin, Middle English MaudelenLate Latin Magdalēnē < Greek Magdalēnḗ Mary Magdalene, portrayed in art as a weeping penitent
Related forms
maudlinism, noun
maudlinly, adverb
maudlinness, noun
unmaudlin, adjective
unmaudlinly, adverb Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for maudlin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He is examined and arraigned; writes a maudlin letter to Elizabeth.

  • Is this a time for wholesale trust, for a maudlin universal sympathy?

    Robert Elsmere Mrs. Humphry Ward
  • Mrs. Morel was always indignant with drunken men that they must sing that hymn when they got maudlin.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • Here will be found no maudlin nonsense as to the affections.

    The Boat Club Oliver Optic
  • In a maudlin way he stuttered: "L-o-o-k-o-u-t, Lin, she'll k-k-i-c-k you."

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
British Dictionary definitions for maudlin


foolishly tearful or sentimental, as when drunk
Derived Forms
maudlinism, noun
maudlinly, adverb
maudlinness, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Middle English Maudelen Mary Magdalene, typically portrayed as a tearful penitent
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 maudlin

c.1600, "tearful," from Middle English fem. proper name Maudelen (early 14c.), from Magdalene (Old French Madelaine), woman's name, originally surname of Mary the repentant sinner forgiven by Jesus in Luke vii:37 (see Magdalene). In paintings, she often was shown weeping as a sign of repentance. Meaning "characterized by tearful sentimentality" is recorded by 1630s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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