Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To muddle; confuse: "My brain is a bit addled by whiskey” ( Eugene O'Neill). See Synonyms at confuse.
  • intransitive v. To become confused.
  • intransitive v. To become rotten, as an egg.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Having lost the power of development, and become rotten, as eggs; putrid.
  • adj. Unfruitful or confused, as brains; muddled. John Dryden.
  • adj. See addled.
  • n. Liquid filth; mire.
  • n. Lees; dregs. Wright
  • v. To make addle; to grow addle; to muddle; as, he addled his brain.
  • v. To cause fertilised eggs to lose viability, by killing the developing embryo within through shaking, piercing, freezing or oiling, without breaking the shell.
  • v. To earn, earn by labor; earn money or one's living. — Forby.
  • v. To thrive or grow; to ripen.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having lost the power of development, and become rotten, as eggs; putrid. Hence: Unfruitful or confused, as brains; muddled.
  • n. Liquid filth; mire.
  • n. Lees; dregs.
  • v. To make addle; to grow addle; to muddle.
  • v. To earn by labor.
  • v. To thrive or grow; to ripen.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Liquid filth; putrid urine or mire; the drainage from a dunghill.
  • n. The dry lees of wine. Bailey; Ash.
  • n. Same as attle.
  • Having lost the power of development and become rotten; putrid: applied to eggs. Hence Empty; idle; vain; barren; producing nothing; muddled, confused, as the head or brain.
  • To make corrupt or putrid, as eggs.
  • Hence To spoil; make worthless or ineffective; muddle; confuse: as, to addle the brain, or a piece of work.
  • To manure with liquid.
  • To become addled, as an egg; hence, to come to nought; be spoiled.
  • To earn; accumulate gradually, as money.
  • To produce or yield fruit; ripen.
  • n. Laborers' wages.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. mix up or confuse
  • v. become rotten

Etymologies

From Middle English adel, rotten, from Old English adel, pool of excrement.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English addlen, from Old English edlēan ("reward, pay-back"), edlēanian ("to reward, recompense"); or of North Germanic origin, from Old Norse ǫðlask ("to gain possession of property"), from ōðal ("owndom, property"). (Wiktionary)
Middle English adel ("rotten"), from Old English adel, adela ("mire, pool, liquid excrement"), from Proto-Germanic *adalaz, *adalan (“cattle urine, liquid manure”). Akin to Saterland Frisian adel "dung", Middle Low German adele "mud, liquid manure" (Dutch aal "puddle"), Old Swedish adel "urine". (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • One need only read the curious doublespeak of the so-called black block anarchists, the group responsible for the only destructive protests at the Vancouver Olympics, to realize what kind of addle-brained morons we're dealing with.

    Vue Weekly

  • We’m kind of addle-headed and over-set, one way and ’tother, and can’t seem to take to any notion.”

    Death of a Fool

  • There are still more addle-brained softballs to come:

    Larry Womack: Chronicle's Boxer 'Endorsement' Reasserts Its Irrelevance

  • Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu agreed and messaged back it was probably just “planted intelligence of the enemy designed to addle us,” but he ordered his embassies to check it out further.

    Wild Bill Donovan

  • He had not exactly crushed the man's head like an egg-shell, but the blow had been sufficient to addle what was inside, and, after being sick for a week, the man had died.

    THE CHINAGO

  • “She surely deserves it all,” Graham murmured, although vaguely hurt in that the addle-pated, alphabet-obsessed, epicurean anarchist of an Irishman who gloried in being a loafer and a pensioner should even mildly be in love with the Little Lady.

    CHAPTER XII

  • Those were their cards and they had to play them, willy-nilly, hunchbacked or straight backed, crippled or clean-limbed, addle-pated or clear - headed.

    Chapter X

  • At such moments I find it well to turn to the testimony of other men to prove to myself that I am not becoming over-wrought and addle-pated.

    THE GHETTO

  • We still had a big pay-day coming to us, and for thirty-seven days, without a drink to addle our mental processes, we incessantly planned the spending of our money.

    Chapter 17

  • Balatta and Vngngn - the latter the addle-headed young chief who was ruled by Ngurn, and who, whispered intrigue had it, was the son of Ngurn.

    THE RED ONE

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Comments

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  • is that why we call them addle-lescents?

    November 6, 2009

  • "addled ... by 1712, from addle (n.) 'urine, liquid filth,' from Old English adela 'mud, mire, liquid manure' (cognate with Old Swedish adel 'urine,' Middle Low German adel, Dutch aal 'puddle'). Used in noun phrase addle egg (c.1250) 'egg that does not hatch, rotten egg,' literally 'urine egg,' a loan translation of Latin ovum urinum, which is itself an erroneous loan translation of Greek ourion oon 'putrid egg,' literally 'wind egg,' from ourios 'of the wind' (confused by Roman writers with ourios 'of urine,' from ouron 'urine'). Because of this usage, the noun in English was taken as an adjective from c. 1600, meaning 'putrid,' and thence given a figurative extension to 'empty, vain, idle,' also 'confused, muddled, unsound' (1706). The verb followed."
    - dictionary.com

    November 2, 2008