A Word A Day : Quagmire

Moday, 31st March 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : kwág mir & kwóg mir


1. a soft marshy area of land that gives way when walked on

2. an awkward, complicated, or dangerous situation from which it is difficult to escape

3. bad situation

Quagmire is an English noun, derived from quake + mire meaning literally shaky, miry ground. It is frequently used metaphorically to describe military campaigns characterized by small hope of victory, poorly-defined objectives and/or no clear exit strategy.


1579 - from obsolete quag - bog, marsh + mire


bog, fen, marsh, marshland, mire, morass, muskeg, quag, slough1, swamp, swampland, wetland


blessing, solution, success

Contextual Examples:

• A snake who could make himself comfortable in a quagmire, a hundred feet deep, would be protected on the outskirts by such stupendous morasses.

• Tess who had dragged her parents into this quagmire was silently wondering what she could do to help them out of it.

• While the Nobel Prize in Literature, which he was awarded in 1957, should have signaled the pinnacle of Camus's career, it came at a time when he was struggling in the deepening quagmire of the Algerian war.

• Slowly, inevitably, over the course of several months, Don Jaime's pupil draws him into a quagmire of plot and counterplot.

• This city received drenching rains that reduced all the roads to quagmires.

Related Words:

quagmires : Noun - Plural

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