muddle around

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muddle around

1. To move or hang about languidly, idly, or lazily. My brother was supposed to be at work, but I found him muddling around down by the river with a friend of his. Once you get the ball, you can't just muddle around behind your offensive line—you've got to act quickly, or those linebackers are going to tackle you!
2. To work or perform in a very mediocre, ineffectual, or unsuccessful manner; to fail to perform to the best of one's abilities. You were such a bright student and talented writer—it kills me to see you muddling around in some office job. The economy had a brief surge after the election, but it has been muddling around at a flat level for the last several months.
3. To dabble in something; to do something sporadically or experimentally. I've been muddling around with different writing styles, trying to find one that suits the stories I'm trying to tell. They haven't changed the core design of the car in decades, only ever muddling around with minor details like the wing mirrors or bumpers.
4. To fumble around awkwardly or clumsily. I didn't want to wake anyone up by turning on the lights, so I had to muddle around in the dark when I came home. I hate muddling around with touch screens—I miss having cell phones with actual buttons you had to press!
See also: around, muddle

muddle around

to work inefficiently. I can't get anything done today. I'm just muddling around. Jed is not doing his job well. He is muddling around and getting nothing done.
See also: around, muddle
References in periodicals archive ?
The show is an interesting tour of the feat starring Magellan, Elcano and his crew, with the prominence of the Nao Victoria, the ship, which returned to Seville in 1522, after three years of muddling around the world.
What is literature, after all, but the story of our muddling around in gray areas?
It took me two weeks muddling around the village to figure out how to work the clutch, shift the gears, hit the brakes.
There is a lot to be said for muddling around with information resources, broadening understanding, and then seizing upon a research plan.
I definitely think this can help people to work together, rather than just muddling around trying to fix things themselves.
So you're there, you're muddling around trying to figure something out on the computer, and someone interrupts you anyway, or your beeper sounds off.