1712, from addle (“urine, liquid filth”), from Old English adela (“mud, mire, liquid manure”), cognate with Old Swedish adel (“urine”), Middle Low German adel, Dutch aal (“manure”). Used in noun phrase addle egg (mid-13c.) “egg that does not hatch, rotten egg”, lit. “urine egg”, a loan translation of Latin ovum urinum, which is itself an erroneous loan translation of Ancient Greek οὔριον ᾠόν (oúrion ōión, “putrid egg”), lit. “wind egg”, from οὔριος (oúrios, “of the wind”), from οὖρος (oûros, “fair wind”) (confused by Roman writers with οὔριος (oúrios, “of urine”), from οὖρον (oûron, “urine”)). Because of this usage, the noun in English was taken as an adj. from c. 1600, meaning “putrid”.
- simple past tense and past participle of
- (of eggs) Bad, rotten; inviable, containing a dead embryo.
- Confused; mixed up.
- (obsolete) Morbid, corrupt, putrid, or barren.