What Is a Mulligan? – Origin & Meaning

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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.

Mulligan isn’t just a term used in the sport of golf. It actually has a deeper, metaphorical meaning and can be applied to different contexts. If you want to discover how to use the word mulligan, I’ll break down all the details right here and share some sentence examples.

Unraveling the Meaning of Mulligan

What Is a Mulligan Origin Meaning

In the sporting world, specifically golf, a mulligan is like a do-over or a second chance after a poor shot. It makes it so it’s like the failed attempt never happened. But this term has since expanded beyond golf courses and has found its way into our everyday conversation to symbolize a fresh start or a second chance.

My husband’s a big golfer. The first time he took me out on the course, he explained what a mulligan was, and I’m pretty sure I used more than I was allowed to!

What Is a Mulligan in Relationships?

Relationships are tough enough, but a mulligan signifies giving someone another chance or letting a particular indiscretion slide as if it didn’t happen. It’s mostly about extending forgiveness and offering the opportunity for improvement or the benefit of the doubt.

How to Pronounce Mulligan

Don’t let the pronunciation of the noun mulligan tie your tongue in knots. It’s supposed to be pronounced as muhl-eh-guhn.

Interpreting Take a Mulligan

When someone decides to take a mulligan, they’re basically choosing to have a redo. In conversations, it means to ignore a previous mistake and move forward like it never happened. We’ve all had to take a conversational mulligan once or twice!

Tracing the Origin and Etymology of Mulligan

The term mulligan has a pretty interesting origin story. It’s said to be named after a Canadian golfer, David Bernard Mulligan, who re-teed a ball in the early 1900s after a poor shot, thus giving birth to the term.

But the etymology of mulligan states that it’s an old Gaelic last name, spelled as Maolagan. Who knows? Maybe that’s the origin of David’s surname! It’s actually a fairly common surname with celebrities like Carey Mulligan and Gerry Mulligan.

Funnily enough, it somehow migrated to food and is the name of a real dish called mulligan stew. It contains root veggies and hearty chunks of beef.

Synonyms for Mulligan

There are lots of ways to say mulligan without saying mulligan. Try any of these synonyms instead!

  • Do-over
  • Second chance
  • Redo
  • Retry
  • Correction shot
  • Fresh start

Using Mulligan in Sentences

What Is a Mulligan Origin Meaning 1
  • After botching the presentation, Jake wished he could have a mulligan so badly.
  • Realizing her hasty decision to buy the expensive shoes, Jane wanted to take a mulligan, start over, and spend the money on something more reasonable.
  • In the spirit of friendship, Mike gave his old buddy a mulligan for his past mistakes and started anew.
  • Sometimes, I feel I need to go back to the past and get a mulligan for certain mistakes and terrible shots in life I’ve made.
  • There are no mulligans in parenting; you just have to do your best and hope your kid turns out to be a decent human being.

Until the Next Mulligan

So, now you should have a good grasp on the term mulligan and how to apply it in life. Basically, it’s a fancy way of saying, “I want a do-over!”

Although it’s mostly used in the realm of golf, it’s popping up more and more in everyday conversations as a way to describe second chances.