What Is Mudslinging? – Meaning and Origin

Photo of author

Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Mudslinging is an idiom that describes the act of making malicious or scandalous claims or accusations against someone, usually to tarnish their reputation. This term is deeply rooted in the metaphorical imagery of throwing mud at someone, hoping that some of it will stick and stain their image. The origin of the term, especially its popular association with politics, has evolved over time.

Idioms are words or phrases in which the meaning or combined meanings of words differ from their individual literal interpretations. They are cultural shorthands for complex ideas and events so others can better understand and relate to what you’re saying. Used well, they can illustrate a point sharply; used poorly, they’re nothing but clichéd hot air.

So, read on and see for yourself how mudslinging should be used in sentences by exploring its deeper meaning and origin.

What Is Mudslinging as an Idiom?

What Is Mudslinging – Meaning and Origin

Mudslinging, in the idiomatic sense, is the act of disparaging or belittling someone, usually a rival of some kind, by spreading rumors, lies, or unpleasant truths about them. Not very nice, is it?

The saying holds the idea that if you say enough bad things about someone, at least one thing will stick, and people will believe it. It’s the verbal version of a food fight—messy, immature, but occasionally effective.

Mudslinging Origin and Etymology

Mudslinging has been a staple term in the political arena since the days when politicians actually slung real mud (Okay, not really, but wouldn’t that be entertaining?). It’s actually ancient Latin in origin, from the saying, “Fortiter calumniari, aliquia adhaerebit,” which means “Throw plenty of dirt, and some of it is sure to stick.” However, the idiomatic use didn’t rise in popularity until the 1900s.

Synonyms for Mudslinging

Tired of using the term mudslinging in your conversations or writing? Well, here’s a list of snazzy synonyms you can use instead.

  • Character assassination
  • Defamation
  • Slander
  • Smear campaign
  • Vilification

Mudslinging Examples in a Sentence

What Is Mudslinging – Meaning and Origin 1

To illustrate the versatility of this idiom, I created ten sentences that show how it can be used.

  • This political campaign is just turning into an ugly bout of mudslinging.
  • Avoid mudslinging at work; it undermines your credibility.
  • Mary’s reputation was tarnished by the mudslinging of her jealous colleagues.
  • “Can we have a proper debate without any mudslinging, please?” the debate teacher requested.
  • The mudslinging between the two clothing companies was aired on social media for everyone to see.
  • Don’t do an interview with him; he’s a journalist known for mudslinging and not for his objective reporting.
  • I watched as their friendship ended after a brutal episode of mudslinging over a boy.
  • She ignored the mudslinging that constantly took place in the author world and focused on her publishing goals.
  • Mudslinging has become commonplace in modern politics, and it’s sickening to watch.
  • “You should apologize to them for the mudslinging,” she said.

Don’t Throw Mud!

Mudslinging and other idioms can be potent tools for communicating. But remember, they need to be wielded with care. But now that you’ve got the dirt on mudslinging, feel free to explore more of our idiom deep dives right here on our site!