Mudslinging is an idiom that was first used in English in the 1970s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom or other parts of speech is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions such as beat around the bush, ballpark figure, let the cat out of the bag, hit the sack, close but no cigar, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, a dime a dozen, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, as they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker. We will examine the meaning of the expression mudslinging, its etymology, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Mudslinging is the act of making unscrupulous attacks on someone. Mudslinging is malicious and is designed to ruin the victim’s reputation. Mudslinging often happens in political circles, and is used to create emotional reactions in the public against one’s opponent. Mudslinging is not fair and open debate, it is taking a fact and slanting it in the worst possible light, or spreading outright lies. The word mudslinging seems to have come into use in the latter 1800s. It is derived from a Latin phrase: Fortiter calumniari, aliquia adhaerebit, which means, throw a lot of dirt and some of it will stick. A related word is mudslinger, there is no verb form. Note that the word mudslinging is a closed compound word, which is composed of two words joined together without a space.


After 15 weeks of screaming and shouting – of political mudslinging, back-door deals and tendentious videos – it was all over, and the quiet voice of 4,306,520 individuals weighed in and decided who should be passing laws and who should be forming a coalition. (The Jerusalem Post)

In times of political mudslinging about EVM tampering, a paper trail ensures that voter faith remains intact, strengthening participatory democracy. (The India Times)

“I and other Democratic candidates are running campaigns based on principles and ideas and not engaging in mudslinging or personal attacks on each other,” Sanders wrote in the April 13 letter first obtained by The New York Times Sunday. (Newsweek Magazine)

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