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Mulligan is an idiom that appeared in the first half of the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the idiom mulligan, where it may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

A mulligan is a do-over, a second chance to perform, another try to accomplish an action. The idiom mulligan was first used in the sport of golf during the 1930s and has now evolved into everyday usage. One may be said to take a mulligan if he makes a second attempt at something, or one may be said to be given a mulligan if he is allowed to make a second attempt in place of the first attempt. The mulligan, or second attempt, replaces the first attempt; it is as if the first attempt had never happened. A mulligan is only invoked in friendly games; it is not allowed in regulation golf. Several stories address the origin of the term mulligan, the most plausible credit either the Canadian golfer, David Bernard Mulligan, or a golf locker room attendant, Buddy Mulligan, both active during the 1920s-1930s. Note that the idiom mulligan, though derived from a proper name, is spelled with a lowercase m.


The Maine State Golf Association and golf courses hoped Governor Janet Mills would take a mulligan on her decision to classify golf as a non-essential business during the COVID-19 pandemic, but her decision to close golf courses for the month of April still stands after an appeal. (The Lewiston Sun Journal)

Some of those voters would have liked to take a mulligan and vote over again once their candidates dropped out shortly before Election Day. (The Antelope Valley Press)

“I suppose that I give him a mulligan on the Booker and Marshall situations in the same way that evangelicals gave Donald Trump a mulligan on disrespect for family and women,” Demmer said. (The Colorado Independent)

“That is obstruction of justice and the President is fortunate that in substance Bob Mueller gave him a mulligan” (The Business Insider)

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