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knee-deep in the Big Muddy

Stuck in a bad or troublesome situation, often as a result of poor leadership. It seems that the elected officials around here are knee-deep in the Big Muddy—and the common folk like you have to suffer because of it. Well, we're knee-deep in the Big Muddy now! What the heck are we gonna do?
See also: big, muddy

muddy the water(s)

To introduce something, typically information, to an issue or situation that makes it less clear or more confusing. Don't muddy the waters with unrelated issues—we need to focus on this one problem. The last witness's testimony has really muddied the water for the prosecution's case against the defendant.
See also: muddy

muddy the waters

To introduce something, typically information, to an issue or situation that makes it less clear or more confusing. Don't muddy the waters with unrelated issues—we need to focus on this one problem. The last witness's testimony has muddied the waters, and most likely doubt has entered the minds of the jury members.
See also: muddy, water

muddy up

1. To cover, fill, or contaminate something with mud. A noun or pronoun can be used between "muddy" and "up." I just got the Jeep washed, and then Tom took it off-roading in the mountains and muddied it up again! Take your boots off so you don't muddy up my carpets! They all went into the wading pool and muddied up the water.
2. To dredge up the mud at the bottom of a lake, pond, river, etc. A noun or pronoun can be used between "muddy" and "up." The lake is so perfectly tranquil and still—don't ruin that by traipsing in and muddying it up! We could have found your ring in this pond if you hadn't muddied the water up before we started looking!
3. To render something awkward, confusing, and disorderly; to obscure or obfuscate something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "muddy" and "up"; often used in passive constructions. The introduction of new tariffs is likely to further muddy up the already complicated relationship between the two countries. They muddied the contract up with all sorts of misleading, cryptic language. Our roles within the team have become so muddied up that we've largely given up the idea of job titles.
See also: muddy, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

muddy something up

1. to make water muddy; to stir up the mud in water, as at the bottom of a pond or river. Don't muddy the water up. It will clog our filters. Don't muddy up the water.
2. Fig. to make something unclear. You have really muddied this issue up. I thought I understood it. You sure muddied up this issue.
See also: muddy, up

muddy the water

Fig. to make something less clear; to make matters confusing; to create difficulty where there was none before. Things were going along quite smoothly until you came along and muddied the water. The events of the past month have muddied the water as far as our proposed joint venture is concerned.
See also: muddy, water
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

muddy the waters

Confuse the issue, as in Bringing up one irrelevant fact after another, he succeeded in muddying the waters. This metaphoric expression, alluding to making a pond or stream turbid by stirring up mud from the bottom, was first recorded in 1837.
See also: muddy, water
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

muddy the waters

If someone or something muddies the waters, they make a situation or an issue more confusing and complicated. The society has been accused of trying to muddy the waters through its poll which has been described as `misleading'. This ruling seems only to have muddied the waters and we are seeking clarification.
See also: muddy, water
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

muddy the waters

make an issue or a situation more confusing and harder to understand by introducing complications.
The figurative use of muddy to mean ‘make something hard to perceive or understand’ occurs in Shakespeare ; muddy the waters dates from the mid 19th century.
See also: muddy, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

muddy the ˈwaters

(disapproving) make something which seemed clear and easy to understand before seem much less clear now: Recent research findings have muddied the waters considerably — nuclear scientists are having to re-examine all their existing theories.They’re just muddying the waters with all this new information.
See also: muddy, water
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

muddy the waters, to

To confuse the issue. This analogy to stirring up the mud from the bottom of a clear pond, lake, or stream dates from the early nineteenth century. The OED quotes Blackwell’s Magazine (1837): “He . . . began to muddy the water.”
See also: muddy, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Leadership has many definitions, but in my opinion its simple: Get your hands dirtier and muddier than your team, and expect them to do the same.
My only reservation is that, very regrettably, the yellows of Autonomy's reproductions are duller, muddier than the bright and garish yellow of my own pristine set of Anarchy.
Zebra mussels, an invasive species, clear up the water, and sauger thrive in muddier water.
The waters become muddier when state labor laws are put into the mix.
The water gets muddier if your relationship with your client is strictly as a broker.
When the War began no-one worried at all, And young boys joined up for the fun of it all, And then they left home with a laugh and a call, And on they went, and on Then the fighting began and tensions ran high, And the mud got muddier as the evenings drew nigh, And explosions lit up a black moody sky, And on it went, and on They were bitten and muddy and bloody and worn, And every piece of their clothes was torn, As they sat in the mud looking pale and drawn, And on they went, and on Then the telegrams came, for their sons were dead, And their mothers cried and cried and said, "It cannot be true, I must have misread," But they hadn't And the pain went on and on...
Since there are barely three months for the State to face what will be one of the most crucial elections in the State, the political scenario is getting muddier and becoming fast unpredictable.
JESSIE J and Professor Green were two of the acts who braved both the mud of Hackney and the even muddier and rainier Wight over the weekend.
And the picture becomes even muddier when we try to make comparisons across countries.
However they would have been a lot muddier were it not for the helpfulness of a couple of Liverpool lads who carried one of them off the site and into a taxi on the Monday after one of her wellies went missing in the mud.
By then, I remained on the truck as it was turning into a more muddier road than the one where were in.
"A proxy fight makes it a little bit of a muddier issue but I think this valuation should be satisfactory considering where (Osteotech) is as a stand-alone entity," Roth Capital analyst Matt Dolan said.
"The muddier the courses are the better as far as I'm concerned, and as we've had such a bad winter even the flat courses have been muddy in parts, so I'm not complaining.
THE boffins at Citroen have knocked out another version of the Berlingo van that, while not being a proper off-roader with 4x4, does have a clever traction-control system and a tough underside that allows it to get a bit muddier than your ordinary van.