From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: huggermugger


Alternative forms[edit]


Unknown; perhaps from Anglo-Irish cuggermugger (a whispering, a low-voiced gossiping), from Irish cogair (whisper). Compare also Swedish mjugg.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈhʌɡ.əˌmʌɡ.ə/, /ˌhʌɡ.əˈmʌɡ.ə/
    • (file)
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈhʌɡ.ɚˌmʌɡ.ɚ/


hugger-mugger (comparative more hugger-mugger, superlative most hugger-mugger)

  1. Secret, clandestine, sly.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:covert
  2. Disorderly, chaotic, confused.
    hugger-mugger doings
    • 2020 September 1, Tom Lamont, “The butcher's shop that lasted 300 years (give or take)”, in The Guardian[1]:
      There were densely tenanted houses on the main road, pigsties hugger-mugger with people, fireplace ashes thrown out at night.


hugger-mugger (uncountable)

  1. (archaic) Secrecy.
  2. Disorder.
    • 1942, Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Canongate, published 2006, page 990:
      As we passed through the quadrangle the church was glowing more brightly than a pearl, like a lily in strong sunlight, in spite of all the scaffolding and hugger-mugger.
    • 2013 September 10, Michiko Kakutani, “A Calamity Tailor-Made for Internet Conspiracy Theories”, in New York Times[2]:
      Portentous events and lots of huggermugger quickly proliferate, as they always in Pynchon-land: a dead body turns up near the pool in a famous Upper West Side building; []


hugger-mugger (comparative more hugger-mugger, superlative most hugger-mugger)

  1. Secretly.
  2. Confusedly, in a muddle.


hugger-mugger (third-person singular simple present hugger-muggers, present participle hugger-muggering, simple past and past participle hugger-muggered)

  1. To meet or act secretly.