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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English moochen, mouchen (to pretend poverty), from Old French muchier, mucier, mucer (to skulk, hide, conceal), from Frankish *mukjan (to hide, conceal oneself), from Proto-Germanic *mukjaną, *mūkōną (to hide, ambush), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)mūg-, *(s)mewgʰ- (swindler, thief).

Cognate with Old High German mūhhōn (to store, cache, plunder), Middle High German muchen, mucken (to hide, stash), Middle English müchen, michen (to rob, steal, pilfer). More at mitch.

Alternate etymology derives mooch from Middle English mucchen (to hoard, be stingy, literally to hide coins in one's nightcap), from Middle English mucche (nightcap), from Middle Dutch mutse (cap, nightcap), from Medieval Latin almucia (nightcap), of unknown origin, possibly Arabic. More at mutch, amice.


  • IPA(key): /muːtʃ/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -uːtʃ


mooch (third-person singular simple present mooches, present participle mooching, simple past and past participle mooched)

  1. (Britain) To wander around aimlessly, often causing irritation to others.
    • 2019, Barney Ronay, Liverpool’s waves of red fury and recklessness end in joyous bedlam (in The Guardian, 8 May 2019)[1]
      With 79 minutes gone, the most celebrated team of the modern age had been reduced to bunch of mooching, stumbling yellow-shirted spectators.
      These chaps that mooch about, as Hyde was doing, pick up all sorts of odds and ends. He may have pinched them from a chemist’s shop.
  2. To beg, cadge, or sponge; to exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain.
    • 1990, p. 26, Michael L. Frankel & friends, Gently with the Tides, Center for Marine Conservation, Washington (DC), →ISBN, p. 26,
      I managed to mooch my way up the journalistic ladder to the next, more impressive level of “Interviewer”.
  3. (Britain) To steal or filch.

Derived terms[edit]



mooch (plural mooches)

  1. (Britain) An aimless stroll.
    Jack wouldn't be arriving for another ten minutes, so I had a mooch around the garden.
  2. One who mooches; a moocher.
  3. (US, slang) A unit of time comprising ten days, used to measure how long someone holds a job.
    • 2018 July 6, Dana Milbank, The Washington Post:
      If we take Scaramucci’s 10-day figure to be the standard of measurement — one “mooch” — then Pruitt survived an amazing 50.3 mooches, even while enduring more than a dozen scandals, any one of which would have doomed a lesser man.
    • 2018 October 27, John Carucci, “Anthony Scaramucci defends Trump, but doesn't always agree”, in Associated Press (press release)-:
      Scaramucci, who jokingly measures time in mooches, a unit equal to approximately 11 days, said he doesn’t necessarily like the version of himself he often sees on screen, but feels director Andrew J. Moscato was accurate.
    • 2019 August 29, Peter Nicholas, “Anthony Scaramucci Wants You to Believe Him This Time”, in The Atlantic:
      I understand it's her job. But I would point out to people that Stephanie has lasted way more “Mooches” than me.