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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English mouthful, mouth-full, mouthe full, equivalent to mouth +‎ -ful. Compare Dutch mondvol (mouthful), German Mundvoll (mouthful), Danish mundfuld (mouthful), 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.
    Synonym: jawbreaker
    “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.
    to give someone a mouthful
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

mouth +‎ -ful.


mouthful (comparative more mouthful, superlative most mouthful)

  1. Bombastic or awkward.
    • 1977, Asok Kumar Mukhopadhyay, The Panchayat Administration in West Bengal:
      Once this happens to be the result, there is little reason for waxing over such mouthful phrases as 'grass-roots democracy', 'democratic decentralization' or 'panchayati raj'.
    • 1980, The Economic Studies - Volume 21, page 7:
      The sufferers are regaled with such mouthful promises by every party on the eve of the successive elections and thereafter they continue to be shouted with unabated vigour by the party occupying the saddle while the problems are relegated to the limbo of time to find out their own solutions.
    • 1981, The Diliman Review - Volume 29, page 74:
      Angley then drifts into his hourful, mouthful extempore, accentuated with refrains of "cast the demon away with the power of the Lord."
    • 1995, Susan Spano, Matthew Debord, Sherill Tippins, Frommer's Irreverent Guide: Manhattan and New York, page 59: else to explain such mouthful menu offerings as plantain-coated mahi mahi with fufu and lily salad and boneless braised short ribs with Paraguayan chipaguasu?