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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"?

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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.

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MUDSLINGING

noun

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.

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    In what way is mudslinging used incorrectly? And what is the "correct" word? – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 5 '16 at 2:13
  • "Mud-flinging" being used when Mudslinging is meant. – lurker Jan 5 '16 at 2:14
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    Both have been in use since the early 19th century, and I see no reason why one should be preferred to the other. – StoneyB on hiatus Jan 5 '16 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 '16 at 2:55
  • @StoneyB The linked Ngram Viewer shows a big difference. – user24743 Jan 5 '16 at 7:35
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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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