I came across the word "mud-flinging" in a news title this morning,

G.O.P. Presidential Hopefuls Gird for a Month of Mud-Flinging.

It infers a meaning of scolding or attacking each other, but it is not included in my dictionaries. What's the exact meaning of "mud-flinging"?


3 Answers 3


Fling means "throw", usually with a sense of violence; mud is wet dirt, which sticks and soils when it hits somebody you throw it at. Politicians fling figurative mud, charges of improper behavior or opinions, at a rival in the hope that the mud will 'stick'—that the public will believe the charges and recoil from voting for the rival.

Mudslinging means exactly the same thing.




1.the use of insults and accusations, especially unjust ones, with the aim of damaging the reputation of an opponent.

Often, when a word is used incorrectly enough times, by enough people, it ends up becoming an accepted synonym for the correct word. "Mud-flinging" is one of those words.

  • 1
    In what way is mudslinging used incorrectly? And what is the "correct" word? Jan 5, 2016 at 2:13
  • "Mud-flinging" being used when Mudslinging is meant.
    – lurker
    Jan 5, 2016 at 2:14
  • 2
    Both have been in use since the early 19th century, and I see no reason why one should be preferred to the other. Jan 5, 2016 at 2:35
  • Dost thou flingeth thine besmirched water at me, good sir? (Methinks we sounded odd, then.) [joking w/ you btw]
    – lurker
    Jan 5, 2016 at 2:55
  • @StoneyB The linked Ngram Viewer shows a big difference.
    – user24743
    Jan 5, 2016 at 7:35

It occurred to me that I had never seen "mud-flinging" and came to check it online. It seems I'm not alone. The usual expression is 'mudslinging". So the writer might have "misremembered" the expression or simply wanted to coin a novel phrase.

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