phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Mullered? Or Mullah'ed?

Posted by Word Wizard on January 06, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Mullered? Or Mullah'ed? posted by TheFallen on January 04, 2003

: : : Any clues to the origin of the above slang term, used in the UK to describe a state of alcoholic inebriation..? I have only ever heard it spoken, so it may be spelt differently to the above.

: : : Obliged

: : Q. From Richard Bolingbroke: "Please can you tell me what _mullered_ means and how old it is. I have only heard it in the last few months. Some people use it in engineering to mean damaged, but it seems to mean drunk too".
: : A. It's a relatively recent British slang term, so far as I know, certainly only dating from the nineties. I've not come across it in the sense of "damaged", but only that of "intoxicated", either by drink or drugs. It has been said to be a variant form of the older word _mulled_, with the same meaning, which presumably derives from the sense of a drink that's has been made into a hot spicy concoction.
: : From "World Wide Words" (January 9, 1999)

: I entirely agree with the above as to meaning - I've heard the word used to mean both drunk and non-functional, and one can easily see the connection between the two. However, as to origin, I'm not so sure at all.

: The difficulty lies in the fact that the "mull-" syllable rhymes in pronunciation with "pull" and not "gull", and if it's a recent coinage (which I'm next to certain it is), there's little reason why the vowel sound should have been modified away from the "mull" of mulled wine. There's also little reason why a coinage based on a relatively obscure and somewhat archaic term like "mulled" should suddenly have sprung up.

: The followoing is pure speculation but, in my view, given the word's pronunciation, we have two other potential origins. One may well be from the world of sports, and probably soccer - the German soccer side of the 80's had a prolific striker called Gerd Muller, and so to be "mullered" might stem from him, and mean to be blasted off the park. (It might also come from another German Muller who hasn't occurred to me). The other possible is from the historical term "mad Mullah", and given the tabloid press's happy re-adoption of this phrase during the late 80's and 90's, what with various Middle Eastern crises going on, one can see how a term "mullah'ed" - meaning crazed - might come about.

Too much 'mulled' wine will result in your becoming 'mullered' - old Elizabethan saying.