quagmire

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English[edit]

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A quagmire or swamp in Louisiana, United States

Etymology[edit]

Recorded since 1579, from quag +‎ mire. The sense “perilous, mixed up and troubled situation” has been recorded since 1775.[1]

Alternatively, the word may apparently be a variation of the earlier quakemire, from quake + mire.[2]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

quagmire (plural quagmires)

  1. A swampy, soggy area of ground.
    Synonyms: marsh, marshland, mire, quag
    That quagmire regularly ‘swallows’ caught-up hikers’ boots
    • 1887, H. Rider Haggard, She: A History of Adventure[1]:
      Never did I see a more dreary and depressing scene. Miles on miles of quagmire, varied only by bright green strips of comparatively solid ground, and by deep and sullen pools fringed with tall rushes, in which the bitterns boomed and the frogs croaked incessantly: miles on miles of it without a break, unless the fever fog can be called a break.
  2. (figuratively) A perilous, mixed up and troubled situation; a hopeless tangle.
    Synonyms: predicament; see also Thesaurus:difficult situation
    The paperwork got lost in a quagmire of bureaucracy.
    Those election results are a quagmire for any coalition except one of national union.
    • 1834, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Francesca Carrara, volume 1, page 168-169:
      "And what was this, my beloved brother, but a vain yielding to unbridled imagination, which, like a spring confined to one spot, collects its pure clear waters, and in at once a beauty and a blessing; but which, allowed to spread abroad in every direction, oozes through the marshy earth, becomes stagnant, and is habited by the loathsome reptile. That which would have been a green haunt, with its fair fountain, is a dreary and useless quagmire. Is it not thus with the mind, Guido?"
    • 2019 May 5, Danette Chavez, “Campaigns are Waged On and Off the Game Of Thrones Battlefield (Newbies)”, in The A.V. Club[2], archived from the original on 28 January 2021:
      I’ve had my doubts about Daenerys’ ability to rule, inspired in part by the quagmire in Meereen. Still, this feels like a precipitous decline. The queen of sobriquets has always been power hungry.
    • 2021 November 24, Stephen Marche, “The Algorithm That Could Take Us Inside Shakespeare’s Mind”, in The New York Times[3], ISSN 0362-4331:
      The only way to know Shakespeare is through his works, and his works are textual quagmires.

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Verb[edit]

quagmire (third-person singular simple present quagmires, present participle quagmiring, simple past and past participle quagmired)

  1. (transitive) To embroil (a person, etc.) in complexity or difficulty.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Douglas Harper (2001–2022), “quagmire”, in Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ quagmire” in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911..