Definition of addle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈad(ə)l/


1 [with object] chiefly humorous Make (someone) unable to think clearly; confuse: being in love must have addled your brain
More example sentences
  • He felt silly that he'd allowed her muddled ravings to addle him in the first place.
  • We're addled by Arizona's talent, impressed by the Wildcats' intensity, and downright dipsy-doodled by their depth.
  • The drugs have addled him so much that it takes pot, alcohol, ecstasy, Special K and GHB to give him that special happy feeling now when he goes out.
muddled, confused, fuddled, befuddled, bewildered, dazed, dizzy, disoriented, disorientated, stupefied, unbalanced, unhinged, demented, deranged
informal discombobulated, woolly, muzzy, woozy, dopey, not with it, bamboozled, fazed
2 [no object] (Of an egg) become rotten, producing no chick: the extremely hot and dry weather had caused the eggs to addle
More example sentences
  • There she was, sitting as usual, and I was so concerned, believing that due to my interference all the eggs had addled—for I thought the hatching time was three weeks.
  • If a bird keeps leaving her eggs and only pops in for a quick visit from time to time, the eggs will addle and come to nothing.
  • At 106 degrees, the eggs will addle (become unviable) or nestlings will die of heat stress.


1 [in combination] Not clear or cogent; muddled: the film is addle-brained
2 archaic (Of an egg) rotten.


Middle English (in sense 2 of the adjective): from Old English adela 'liquid filth', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch aal and German Adel 'mire, puddle'.

  • An addled egg is rotten and produces no chick, whereas if your brain is addled you are confused. Originally a rotten egg was described as an addle egg from Old English addle, liquid mud or dung, the sort of stuff you might come across in a farmyard, and which came to describe rotten eggs because of their smell.

Words that rhyme with addle

paddle, saddle, skedaddle, staddle, straddle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: addle

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