quagmire

A quagmire is a dangerous place, like the muddy shoreline of a pond. Because it's so hard to climb out of a quagmire, the word has also come to mean any difficult or sticky situation you find yourself in.

Long ago, quag was a synonym for "bog" or "marsh," a swampy area where water seems to sit instead of drain out. Mire is another word to describe such a place. As a verb mire means "stuck," like someone who's mired in quicksand or mired in work — both prevent you from going anywhere. In a quagmire, you get stuck physically — or, even more commonly, in a situation that is hard to escape because there is no easy solution.

Definitions of quagmire
  1. noun
    a soft wet area of low-lying land that sinks underfoot
    synonyms: mire, morass, quag, slack
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    type of:
    bog, peat bog
    wet spongy ground of decomposing vegetation; has poorer drainage than a swamp; soil is unfit for cultivation but can be cut and dried and used for fuel
  2. noun
    a situation from which extrication is difficult especially an unpleasant or trying one
    synonyms: morass, plight, predicament, quandary
    see moresee less
    types:
    care
    a cause for feeling concern
    box, corner
    a predicament from which a skillful or graceful escape is impossible
    hot water
    a dangerous or distressing predicament
    type of:
    difficulty
    a condition or state of affairs almost beyond one's ability to deal with and requiring great effort to bear or overcome
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