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From Middle English mouthful, mouth-full, mouthe full, equivalent to mouth +‎ -ful. Compare Dutch mondvol (mouthful), German Mundvoll (mouthful), Template:Cog, Swedish munfull (mouthful), Icelandic munnfylli (mouthful). Compare also West Frisian mûlfol (mouthful).


mouthful (plural mouthfuls or mouthsful)

  1. The amount that will fit in a mouth.
    He swallowed a mouthful of sea water when he fell in.
  2. (slang) Quite a bit.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter VII:
      “Unquestionably his metabolism is unduly susceptible to stresses resulting from the interaction of external excitations,” he said, and Bobbie patted him on the shoulder in a maternal sort of way, a thing I wouldn't have cared to do myself though our relations were, as I have indicated, more cordial than they had been at one time, and told him he had said a mouthful.
  3. Something difficult to pronounce or say.
    “She sells sea shells” is a bit of a mouthful to say.
    • 1960, P. G. Wodehouse, Jeeves in the Offing, chapter X:
      “Yes, you may leave this little matter entirely to me, Mr Wooster.” “I wish you'd call me Bertie.” “Certainly, certainly.” “And might I call you Roderick?” “I shall be delighted.” “Or Roddy? Roderick's rather a mouthful.” “Whichever you prefer.”
    • 2010, Alexander Irvine, Iron Man 2: The Junior Novel, page 77
      "Tony, I'm the executive director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Strategic Homeland Intelligence, Enforcement, and Logistics Division," explained Fury.
      Tony nodded. [] "Want a tip? Fire your namer of things, because that's a mouthful."
  4. A tirade of abusive language (especially in the term “give someone a mouthful”)