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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.
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
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 you went and muddied it up offroading in the mountains! 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 hand'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.
muddy something upLit.
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.
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.
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.
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.
muddy the watersmake 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.