Word of the Week

As we’ve gotten some very humid weather here in Illinois lately, muzzy seemed like a good choice.
muzzyadj. = ‘ Of a place, occasion, etc.: dull, gloomy, tedious. Also, of the weather: misty, foggy; muggy.
Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈmʌzi/,  U.S. /ˈməzi/
Forms:  17–18 mussy,   17– muzzy,   18– muzy Eng. regional (Northumberland).
Etymology:Origin uncertain. Compare mosy adj.

This word is the earliest attested of a group of words of similar form and meaning, all first attested in the 18th cent., including muzz v.muzz n., and muzzle v.2 In later use indistinctness and (especially mental) confusion are key elements of most of the senses of each word in this group. This group of words perhaps show shortening of forms of mosy adj. with a raised long vowel (compare forms in -oo--ou- s.v.).

 colloq. and Brit. regional.

1. a. Of a place, occasion, etc.: dull, gloomy, tedious. Also, of the weather: misty, foggy; muggy.

1728  M. Delany Autobiogr. & Corr.(1861) I. 159 The town is mussy, though very full. I have not been at an assemblée this winter.
1754  A. Murphy Gray’s Inn Jrnl. No. 80, Sunday the most muzzy Day in the year.
1770  S. Foote Lame Lover i. 12 A damn’d muzzy dinner at Boodle’s.
1821  S. T. Coleridge in Blackwood’s Edinb. Mag. 10 253 Here have I been sitting, this whole long-lagging, muzzy, mizly morning.
1890  P. H. Emerson Wild Life 97 Muzzy weather a coming—wind and rain from the sutherly.
1998 Independent 5 Jan. ii. 3/4 (captionLord Owen recalled how he had found it useful to carry a pin which he could drive into his thigh at particularly muzzy moments.
 b. Of persons, their actions, manner, etc.: dulled, drowsy, spiritless; confused, mentally hazy; dazed and unfocused. Cf. sense 2.

1729  M. Delany Autobiogr. & Corr.(1861) I. 195, I returned from the Duchess of Norfolk’s Assembly, (muzzy enough, not having met with agreeable conversation).
1730  J. Miller Humours Oxf. i. i. 8 Your Fellows of Colleges are a parcel of Sad, Muzzy, Humdrum, Lazy, Ignorant old Caterpillars.
1761  J. Hawkesworth Edgar & Emmeline 7 What, always muzzy, with a dismal countenance as long as a taylor’s bill!
1827  Scott Jrnl. 28 Feb. (1941) 28 Discontinuing smoking..leaves me less muzzy after dinner.
1883 Sat. Rev. 10 Nov. 586 A sentimental Celt may regard himself, in his muzzy Celtic way, as being an ill-treated rightful heir of any land which chances to belong to a ‘Saxon’.
1943  L. Woolf Let. 26 Aug. (1990) 480, I..have developed a violent cold in the head which perhaps accounts for why I felt so muzzy in the brain.
1984  B. Breytenbach Mouroir 134 The buses stop and they get out, dull and muzzy.
 c. Of something presented to the mind or senses: vague, hazy, indistinct; imprecisely defined.

1744  Ld. Orrery Let. 9 Feb. in Papers(1903) II. 184 This is a very muzzy Letter, a true representation of my present condition.
1771  T. Gainsborough Let. 21 Mar. (1961) 143 I’m sorry your Chalk Drawings got Rubb’d as they were muzzy enough at first.
1832  W. Irving in Life & Lett.(1866) III. 26 His form is still fine on the stage, but his countenance is muzzy and indistinct.
1849  Thackeray Pendennis(1850) I. xxxi. 302 We may expect that his view of the past will be rather muzzy.
1867 Art Jrnl. 29 123/3 The execution..is vague and muzzy to a fault.
1899 Contemp. Rev. June 830 A growing tendency to see everything blurred and muzzy.
1940  E. Pound Cantos LII–LXXI liv. 41 Fou-Y saying they use muzzy language The more to mislead folk.
1951  N. Monsarrat Cruel Sea iv. i. 290 It’s a very small echo… Sort of muzzy, too.
1977 Church Times 2 June 11/4 The ecclesiastical institution is weaker; its boundaries are muzzier.
1997  E. Hand Glimmering i. i. 6 He propped his elbows on the balcony beside his friend, blinking at the muzzy violet light.

 2. Affected by alcohol; dazed or fuddled from drinking.

a1795  T. Campbell Diary(1854) 19 We went to the Coffee house in the evening, where almost all the Gownsmen we saw were tipsy… The next night also, we went to another Coffee house, and there the scene was only shifted, all muzzy.
1795  J. O’Keeffe Irish Mimic i. ii. 21 With glass of wine we’ll cheer our woe, And wipe our muzzy faces.
1848  Thackeray Pendennis(1850) I. v. 45 His muzzy, whiskified brain.
1852  R. S. Surtees Mr. Sponge’s Sporting Tour x. lix. 333 Leather, though somewhat muzzy, was sufficiently sober to be able to deliver this message.
1892  J. Payn Mod. Dick Whittington II. 133 He was ‘muzzy’ in the morning; he was ‘elevated’ in the afternoon; but at six o’clock, punctually, he was drunk.
1910 Truth 16 Apr. 1 His Worship: ‘Was the accused sober?’ Witness: ‘Well, he looked muzzy.’ His Worship: ‘What do you mean by that?’ Witness: ‘He looked either drunk or a shingle short.’
1956  O. Welles Mr. Arkadin ii. iv. 128 The abandon of a woman..whose head was muzzy with the champagne.
1981  M. Keane Good Behaviour xxxiv. 228 He didn’t take in what I was saying, a bit muzzy probably after all that port and brandy.