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to make or become confused.
to make or become rotten, as eggs.
mentally confused; muddled.
addle eggs.
Historical Examples

And what in the world do you want to be addling your brains with a Latin grammar for, when there’s other need for your eyes?
Clementina A.E.W. Mason

She read feverishly all she could find on the subject, ending by addling her brains to the point of frenzy.
The Sturdy Oak Samuel Merwin, et al.

This is a beast of a letter, but I am not well, and have been addling my head.
The Letters of Charles Dickens Charles Dickens

to make or become confused or muddled
to make or become rotten
(in combination) indicating a confused or muddled state: addle-brained, addle-pated
(Northern English, dialect) to earn (money or one’s living)

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 (mid-13c.) “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, from c.1600 the noun in English was taken as an adjective meaning “putrid,” and thence given a figurative extension to “empty, vain, idle,” also “confused, muddled, unsound” (1706). The verb followed a like course. Related: Addled; addling.


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