mare's nest

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English[edit]

1899 Welsh cartoon using the phrase mare's nest.

Etymology[edit]

From mare's + nest. Compare horse-nest.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

mare's nest (plural mare's nests)

  1. A great discovery which turns out to be illusory; a hoax.
    • c. 1620, John Fletcher, Bonduca, V.2:
      Why dost thou laugh? What Mares nest hast thou found?
  2. A confused or complicated situation; a muddle.
    • 2002, Colin Jones, The Great Nation, Penguin 2003, p. 277:
      Though Chancellor Maupeou had supported the idea of a trial [...], the legal proceedings developed into a mare's nest of accusations and counter-accusations.

Anagrams[edit]