Definition of muck in English:



  • 1[mass noun] Dirt, rubbish, or waste matter.

    ‘I'll just clean the muck off the windscreen’
    • ‘The extraordinary attention to detail transports the viewer to Elizabethan London, from the grime and muck of the streets to the elegance of the palaces and nobility.’
    • ‘Then she screamed - the first scream of her adult life - as a slimy mixture of grease, muck and dirt poured out over her ankles.’
    • ‘We're under the river - you realize - covered by metal, cement, rock, dirt, silt, muck, and water.’
    • ‘The bomb craters were so deep we couldn't walk down into them, so we struggled around their rims like ants, fighting for a purchase in dirt, muck and shattered roots.’
    • ‘I have lived like we did in the jungles, in dirt and filth and muck, unwashed and unkempt.’
    • ‘At Dillard, floodwaters receded to reveal muck, debris and tangled tree branches.’
    • ‘Wells provided the villagers with clean drinking water, rather than the chocolate-coloured muck I had been swimming in.’
    • ‘‘Surely there must be a better way than having people wade through muck and dirt to these sites,’ he said.’
    • ‘The muck and mire are long gone, and the golf course looks much the same as it did on opening day.’
    • ‘The floor was stone, but seemed to be hidden under a thin layer of muck, and debris from above.’
    • ‘It was full of green slime and muck instead of crystal clean water.’
    • ‘The smog monster Hedora is an interesting creation, being made entirely out of sludge and muck.’
    • ‘He pointed out that an ordinary person leaving muck on a road would have to clean up the road afterwards.’
    • ‘This was an isolated incident, but residents were angry about the amount of muck, dirt and stones coming off each site on the lorries' wheels.’
    • ‘A muck of built-up sewage and slime sits at the bottom of the deep, slow-moving, polluted water.’
    • ‘Not that there's much to see: what's at the bottom is not water, but muck and debris.’
    • ‘He says it's rather tacky, there are roadworks which haven't been fixed for days and the litter and muck just gets worse.’
    • ‘Apart from the litter have you also noticed the amount of muck and dirt on the roads this winter?’
    • ‘It was muck, sludge, and sewage every day of the campaign.’
    • ‘I finished the gutters, sprayed some water up there to clean out the muck, and then surveyed the entire leaf-in-yard situation.’
    dirt, grime, filth, mud, slime, sludge, scum, mire, mess, rubbish
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    1. 1.1Farmyard manure, widely used as fertilizer.
      ‘he was covered in cow muck and mud’
      • ‘Fly tipped garden rubbish is as much a stain on the countryside as dog muck and litter.’
      • ‘‘As I started to turn round a guy tipped a bucket of farmyard muck over me and then threw the rest of it over me and the car,’ he said.’
      • ‘Farmers poured milk onto muck heaps yesterday at the beginning of a three-day protest at low food prices.’
      • ‘When she escaped, before I was covered in bird muck, I swear I saw a peregrine falcon fly down and cut her bonds.’
      • ‘It stinks of horse muck at the moment and the rubbish is going everywhere.’
      • ‘They are left in all weathers for an unknown period in their own muck and urine.’
      • ‘A gentleman took his child on to the new play area and complained about the amount of dog muck.’
      • ‘On two occasions I have had a large amount of dog muck deposited on the pavement outside my house.’
      • ‘A Darwen mother is refusing to let her daughter join a school ‘walking bus’ because she says the pavements are covered in dog muck.’
      • ‘He obviously missed the description of wading through cow muck to get to the feed-sheds in the dead of winter!’
      • ‘But with fewer livestock now being kept, the steaming muck and straw is worth £20 a ton and farmers want to keep what they have got for their own land.’
      • ‘A Kendal farmer was landed with a £300 fine this week after putting wildlife at risk by polluting a stream with watery cow muck.’
      • ‘We have some wonderful buildings in Trowbridge and they are just covered in bird muck.’
      • ‘I assume the ‘very’ brown boots refers to farmyard muck?’
      • ‘When the Victorians planted them the only problem was sheep muck and cow muck.’
      • ‘One of Britain's top trainers, Tim Easterby, who has 120 horses at Great Habton, Malton, uses the pure muck as a fertiliser on his own fields.’
      • ‘Farmers could earn substantial guaranteed income by utilising spare farm buildings to feed pigs - and use the muck to reduce fertiliser costs and boost cereal yields.’
      • ‘Under amendments to the Waste Management and Licensing Regulations, livery yards, stables and riding schools who add anything to their muck to compost it for fertiliser will be eligible for the fee.’
      • ‘Thousands of fish died when pig muck which was ten times more concentrated than human sewage poured into the Farlington Beck.’
      • ‘Then there's the problem on country roads of farmers leaving muck from their dung or slurry spreaders.’
      dung, manure, ordure, excrement, excreta, droppings, faeces, cowpats, guano, sewage
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    2. 1.2informal Something regarded as distasteful, unpleasant, or of poor quality.
      ‘why do you let her read this muck?’
      • ‘Unlike real junk food, this rhetorical muck comes with no warnings about its worthless contents.’
      • ‘The only problem was some bizarre muck - apparently pineapple and cucumber salsa - on the side of my plate, where it remained untroubled while the turbot disappeared at top speed.’
      • ‘This news has almost forced me to once again swim into the muck of Democratic Underground, which I have not read in almost two weeks.’
      • ‘‘A lot of breweries were producing muck,’ Hal said.’
      • ‘First we read the menu: there's nowt but foreign muck,’
      • ‘And his daughters certainly don't deserve this sort of muck, regardless of what you might think of his policies and what his policies have done to other people's families.’
      • ‘Besides, America is a country with widespread muck and mire, as you may have noticed from our presidential campaign.’
      • ‘My mammalian mind remains mired in the earthly muck of doubt.’
      • ‘He seems to have a genuine hatred for and problem with the muck so many kids get raised on, and recognises that this may be the only hot meal they get that day.’


  • 1British Remove manure and other dirt from a horse's stable or other animal's dwelling.

    ‘I was mucking out some of the dirtiest piggeries I had ever seen’
    • ‘In between looking after the horses, other duties included mucking out the stables.’
    • ‘The how is waking up every morning, seven days a week, by 6 a.m. to feed the horses, muck out the stalls, brush, ride and bath the horses.’
    • ‘The empty stalls were full of straw, but at least they had been mucked out.’
    • ‘Could you feed, milk, take out to graze, and muck out my cow while I'm away?’
    • ‘Straw bedding is fine as long as it is mucked out daily, removing all wet material and keeping the bedding as clean as possible at all times.’
    • ‘The large shelter, which can accommodate about 50 horses, has been carefully mucked out.’
    • ‘The stalls hadn't been mucked out for a long time.’
    • ‘The other four muck out - clean out the stables - and do the administration.’
    • ‘For my next assignment, I was instructed to get my hands dirty by mucking out some of the kennels at Foal Farm.’
    • ‘When I go home to my parents in Pennsylvania, people are amazed to see me in the barn, all filthy, mucking stalls out in wellies.’
    • ‘I went back to her stall and started to muck it out.’
    • ‘The pair had just finished mucking out the elephant enclosure, which housed five females and two young males, and were giving the animals their daily wash with a power hose at about 8.20 am.’
    • ‘In return I had to help muck out and clean the tack.’
    • ‘He'd asked me to muck a few horses out and I decided to take a radio down to keep myself entertained.’
  • 2dialect Spread manure on (land)

    ‘half the farm is mucked every year’
    • ‘With the horses we mucked the fields and then went out in the morning to feed everyone.’
    • ‘Help muck the fields and move hay.’


  • as common as muck

    • informal Of low social status.

      • ‘You know, Ramirez, sometimes you seem as common as muck, and other times you're the most princely person I've met.’
      • ‘She is posing as a lady but she is really as common as muck.’
      • ‘Sean Connery comes from the East of Scotland, with a 'posh' kinda tone, but we are from the West side and sound as common as muck.’
      • ‘He's as common as muck, and God help him if he has to perform state duties - he can't stand foreigners.’
      rabble, scum, refuse, garbage, rubbish, trash, vermin, the lowest of the low, in the underclass, the dregs of society, good-for-nothings, undesirables
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  • make a muck of

    • informal Handle (something) incompetently.

      ‘the taxi driver made a muck of it and took me to the wrong place’
      • ‘I think the reason we need all this legislation is that previous legislation made a muck of it, so we have the amendment bill to make sure that the law does not continue as it is.’
      • ‘‘No, she's just made a muck of things, that's all.’’
      • ‘Of course, if her side win today, Nilsmark will be remembered as the great master tactician, but if Europe slips to defeat, she could be accused of making a muck of her choices.’
      • ‘If Finnie makes a muck of it - as I'm sure he will - I wonder if Jack would look in my direction.’
      • ‘I found letting my son look after his own money extremely hard as I was sure he would make a muck of it.’
      make a mess of, mess up, botch, bungle, spoil, ruin, wreck, mishandle, mismanage
      View synonyms
  • where there's muck there's brass

    • proverb Dirty or unpleasant activities are also lucrative.

      • ‘It used to be said that where there's muck there's brass, but here's an updated adage: where there's a publicly owned body there's money to be made.’
      • ‘Oscar Brogden has proved that where there's muck there's brass by salvaging 1,000 bicycles from Manchester's bins.’
      • ‘The old phrase ‘where there's muck there's brass’ rings true for a pioneering Bradford firm after profits increased by more than a third.’
      • ‘Unbelievably, this mountain of narcotics had been found in bins, but then, as the saying goes - where there's muck there's brass.’
      • ‘‘You have to roll your sleeves up and say ‘where there's muck there's brass’.’’

Phrasal Verbs

  • muck about/around

    • Behave in a silly or aimless way.

      ‘we just muck around in training and have a laugh’
      • ‘I thought they were mucking around, but now it makes sense.’
      • ‘I have so many very happy and fond memories of my aunt, who was also my Godmother, and the many hours I used to spend mucking around as a kid with my cousins at her house.’
      • ‘‘It ranges from youngsters mucking around a causing a bit of discomfort to local residents, to really serious misconduct and loutish behaviour right through to serious criminal behaviour,’ he said.’
      • ‘‘At first, nobody could believe this big boy when he first showed up,’ said McHarg, ‘and they couldn't believe the way he mucked around.’
      • ‘In a written statement, Ms Shepherd said: ‘There was a thud, and I thought he was mucking around.’’
      • ‘I started mucking around and becoming slack with my work.’
      • ‘Mountain bikes are great for mucking around offroad.’
      • ‘Everyone wrote about mucking around, getting into fights, playing football, except this one kid whose story was all about the hours he spent crying and missing his mum and dad.’
      • ‘I think he wasted at least a third of the allocated 90 minutes with his mucking around.’
      • ‘They reminded me of those ‘mixtures’ created by bored children on rainy days, mucking around in the kitchen with anything liquidy or easily blended.’
      • ‘Scientists, historians and the like need to muck around in libraries and laboratories to achieve their results, but concepts can be analysed in the armchair.’
      • ‘He put on a blonde wig to imitate my hair, and started mucking around as if we were best mates.’
      • ‘He talks in class continually and encourages his friends to muck around.’
      • ‘There's editing and there's just mucking around.’
      • ‘We were mucking around as we drove back to our neck of the woods - playing tag through traffic, messing with other drivers - the kind of stuff we used to do all the time when we were 17 or 18.’
      • ‘So without anymore mucking around, let the interview begin…’
      • ‘Set in 1942 in the Forest of Dean, it's about seven children mucking around on a summer's afternoon.’
      • ‘We were in detention together on more than one occasion, me and Andy, for mucking around in class and smoking and stuff (I used to tell my mum I was staying late after school for football practice).’
      • ‘It's happened since the children have gone back to school, so it must be kids mucking around.’
      • ‘He was mucking around because, in an all-male boarding school, there weren't any other options.’
      fool about, fool around, play about, play around, fiddle about, fiddle around, amuse oneself, clown about, clown around, footle about, footle around
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  • muck about/around with

    • Tinker with (something), typically so as to damage or spoil it.

      ‘have you been mucking about with the aerial?’
      • ‘Didn't play golf this weekend, as I had a bit of a turn early Saturday morning due to mucking about with my medication dosages and had to cancel.’
      • ‘In this exhibition, it's an installation which you're invited to muck around with: go there, add your own content to the magazine, move it all around and turn material over.’
      • ‘I think there are certain benchmark institutions and arrangements in our society that you don't muck around with, and children should be brought up ideally by a mother and a father who are married.’
      • ‘As the outgoing controller of Radio Four could tell you, it's dangerous to muck around with BBC tradition.’
      • ‘Yep, I've been mucking around with the site's appearance again.’
      • ‘Having a passport is a fundamental right of New Zealand citizenship and should not be mucked around with in that way.’
      • ‘They realise that India is too important for the sponsors to muck around with.’
      • ‘They can't have foreigners coming over and mucking about with their democracy, it might end up with officials becoming responsible for their actions!’
      • ‘Youths should realise they are putting their lives and those of other people at risk when they muck around with what are without doubt dangerous items.’
      • ‘When we arranged this test Marcos asked me to make allowances because I'd be testing the development prototype which was being constantly mucked about with.’
      • ‘They all got their start by mucking about with existing machines and trying to make them better.’
      • ‘He gets to muck around with all the latest PC hardware and has a hand in making some of the fastest gaming rigs going.’
      • ‘Most people treasure their right to vote and get very upset if anyone tries to muck about with it.’
      • ‘In other cases, film-makers mucked around with the novels, mistakenly believing that one little tweak would make Greene more cinematic.’
      • ‘We've already got new songs that we are mucking around with, so we've almost got a new album ready to go.’
      • ‘Very difficult to get ones hands on a version as it's been mucked about with quite a bit.’
      • ‘I generate the material, kind of leave it to them to muck around with, and go off and write some more.’
      • ‘Then David had a look, and after grumbling how people had been mucking about with it, he had it going as good as new.’
      • ‘It didn't turn out as well as I expected, but I'll be mucking about with it over the break.’
      • ‘I just want something cool to muck about with in my spare time.’
      fool about, fool around, play about, play around, fiddle about, fiddle around, amuse oneself, clown about, clown around, footle about, footle around
      interfere, fiddle, fiddle about, fiddle around, play about, play around, tamper, meddle, tinker, monkey, monkey about, monkey around
      View synonyms
  • muck someone about/around

    • Treat someone inconsiderately, typically by disrupting their plans.

      ‘what the management has to learn is that we can't be mucked about’
      • ‘The real issue going on at Casino Avenue Towers is my washing machine. It's mucking me about again, refusing to complete its cycles.’
      • ‘She snapped: ‘You can't muck me around like this, Terry, I've made arrangements.’’
      • ‘But I don't want to muck them around either and would like to know where I stand.’
      • ‘Even though I should have been really annoyed with Tony for having mucked me about like that, I couldn't help but grin in wonder at the impish cunning which lurked beneath his angelic exterior.’
      • ‘It would add hours to his commuting time, ruin his wife's photography business and generally muck them about.’
      • ‘I didn't actually see the draw but my mum rang me and I thought she was mucking me about.’
      • ‘I think that an apology would be nice, because they have mucked me around for long enough.’
      • ‘Psychologists like to talk about ‘locus of control’ and ‘cognitive mapping’ - lofty terms for not letting other people muck you about, and developing a sense of place.’
      • ‘I'm sure you realise that I am in no state to have anyone muck me around.’
      • ‘I told Matt what my thoughts were and I don't want to muck him about.’
      • ‘Then someone did ring from Staples, apologised for mucking me around, all to do with a new warehouse, blah blah.’
      • ‘Steve showed up in the afternoon; he was friendly, clearly knew a bit about cars and didn't muck me about.’
      • ‘We understand that prisoners could have the right to sue if the Department of Corrections mucks them around.’
      • ‘You don't want to kill him, but if he mucks you around, well, something's gonna happen to him.’
      • ‘If they start mucking you around speak to their complaints department, get them to send you another form with a self-addressed envelope so they cannot say it's gone elsewhere.’
      • ‘I wouldn't let them muck me around like that.’
      • ‘We are fed up with getting mucked around and even though we had other players ill with flu we just decided to go ahead.’
  • muck in

    • Share tasks or accommodation without expecting a privileged position.

      ‘she really enjoys mucking in with the lads’
      • ‘Indeed, said Doreen, many guests were amazed to see her mucking in around the farmyard in a pair of overalls, but B&B fits in well with the farming business, with Doreen and her husband Peter working at both.’
      • ‘Angela says the response from parents has been overwhelming and many have become involved themselves, either musically or mucking in with stage management.’
      • ‘I must stress at this point that our friends are pretty good at mucking in and we do enjoy seeing them.’
      • ‘‘Christmas Day is exactly the same as it is in anyone's home - it's a bit hectic and everyone mucks in,’ he said.’
      • ‘They are quite self-orientated usually, but after a week mucking in with their cousins, they help out more.’
      • ‘Raised in Anstruther, where her parents run a hotel, she was used to mucking in and helping with the waitressing, cooking and cleaning, as required.’
      • ‘It was good to see there is some community spirit left with everyone mucking in to lend a hand and do whatever they could.’
      • ‘Happy to muck in with any number of undignified playgroup tasks, one dad has been quick to name his price.’
      • ‘He likes a beer and he socialises and he mucks in.’
      • ‘Beer, spare parts and tales of the day's adventures are enthusiastically shared while everybody mucks in with repairs.’
      • ‘The nurses are brilliant and because it's so small everyone just mucks in.’
      • ‘Catches of fish were shared, friends mucked in to build neighbours' homes, sods were replaced after peat-cutting and even the soot-covered inner thatch was recycled as fertiliser.’
      • ‘Telecom's technology was far more basic in the early days and a country manager was expected to muck in when lines went down.’
      • ‘Everyone is expected to muck in with the camp chores: pitching tents, collecting firewood, cooking the meals and shopping in local markets.’
      • ‘There is a good community feel about us, everybody mucks in and they just want me to succeed in the new club.’
      • ‘The middle of five children (four girls and a boy), she grew up in Yorkshire on a small cattle farm and spent her childhood outdoors, mucking in feeding the livestock, chasing them when they ran amok through neighbours' gardens.’
      • ‘It is like a family, and when the chips are down, everybody is there and just sort of mucks in, she says.’
      • ‘It is inherent in student life that different students will come and go at different times and that groups will vary in their habits so far as sharing expenses and generally mucking in are concerned…’
      • ‘From sweeping the floors to reading bedtime stories, the show sees Melinda mucking in with all the daily tasks of the house.’
      • ‘When they finally get home, they are, quite reasonably, expected to muck in with the shopping, cleaning and childcare.’
      help out, help, assist, lend a hand, join in, pitch in, participate, play a part, contribute, do one's bit, chip in, cooperate, collaborate, put one's shoulder to the wheel
      get stuck in
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  • muck up

    • Behave badly; mess around.

      ‘boys are more likely to muck up at what they see as poor teaching’
      • ‘They fear you might use the certainty of a weekly wage to start mucking up again.’
      • ‘There've been numerous other similar incidents this year of footballers mucking up in public.’
      • ‘Even though he mucks up all the time, he gets away with it because the teachers think of him as some sort of eccentric genius.’
      • ‘If you muck up, you're automatically eligible for three months jail.’
      • ‘He spent most of his time shouting at me because I was always mucking up and answering back.’
      • ‘If you muck up again it becomes a criminal charge.’
      • ‘There are many things that can distract a driver, and kids and pets mucking up in the backseat is a classic.’
      • ‘With the boss away, he steps up to umpire the hour when the kids muck up for the cameras.’
      • ‘What does a court do where one of the parents deliberately mucks up?’
      • ‘They can muck up, and make fun, and even make your life hard.’
  • muck something up

    • Do something badly or ineptly; mishandle something.

      ‘she had mucked up her first few weeks at college’
      • ‘If I do I'd better not muck it up or I won't get another chance.’
      • ‘When I was a kid, of course, I drew in them, ripped pages and covers, and generally mucked them up, but by the time I was in university I kept all my books in perfect shape.’
      • ‘Being more than friends just totally mucks things up.’
      • ‘It is one thing to have the US government mucking things up overseas.’
      • ‘I'm born and bred in Coatbridge and I live here, so there's no hiding place for me if I muck it up.’
      • ‘But when the blueprint demands mediocrity, why bother mucking it up with excellence?’
      • ‘That won't be the best of all possible outcomes but it's better than if the Liberals get another chance at mucking things up.’
      • ‘Much Ado About Nothing tells the tale of two relationships and the meddling do-gooders who muck them up.’
      • ‘But no, they insist on mucking it up by deciding for themselves.’
      • ‘So unless I muck things up incredibly, I should be okay moneywise for the next few decades or so.’
      • ‘If anything, they've gotten a bit crafty with the songwriting, without mucking it up by trying to reinvent the wheel.’
      • ‘Maybe it's the girls who have mucked things up in this case.’
      • ‘It made her realise that what's important in a recording is to show your creative side ‘because you do have a second chance if you muck something up.’’
      • ‘Knowing them, I have a feeling they'll manage to muck it up somehow.’
      • ‘You wouldn't want someone to come in just about when we're almost finished and muck it up.’
      • ‘Well, the New Zealand corporates are trying at least, but they do seem to muck things up when it comes to helping out local acts.’
      • ‘I guess we have to wait for the mainstream media to muck things up this badly.’
      • ‘I get scared that I shall muck something up badly, so I tend not to volunteer for things.’
      • ‘One of the hardest things we ever have to learn is that you can't lead other people's lives for them, however intent they seem on mucking them up.’
      • ‘‘I'll tell you what happened before Agent Miller mucks the whole story up,’ Loki said with a cold glance at Miller.’
      make a mess of, mess up, botch, bungle, spoil, ruin, wreck, mishandle, mismanage
      make a hash of, muff, fluff, foul up, screw up, louse up, bitch up, blow, foozle
      make a muck of, make a pig's ear of, cock up, make a horlicks of
      flub, goof up
      fuck up, bugger up, balls up
      View synonyms


Middle English muk, probably of Scandinavian origin: compare with Old Norse myki dung, from a Germanic base meaning soft, shared by meek.