Imagine you dropped your keys into the river, you're standing in it, able to see the bottom, looking for your keys. And then your friend John jumps in, and since his impact raised up the sand from the bottom of the river, you can't see anything anymore, so, what did John do? Blurred up the water? Or what do you call this action?

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    You can say that John "muddied the water" and this can be used figuratively. – Weather Vane Jan 23 '19 at 0:01
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    "Cloud" is another option. – Hot Licks Jan 23 '19 at 0:55

Perhaps "Roil" is the word you are looking for. Albeit, I have never heard this before.


to make turbid by stirring up the sediment or dregs of

-Merriam Webster

  • Hi Jeremy, welcome to EL&U. This is a good start, but it's too short: the system has flagged it as "low-quality because of its length and content." An answer on EL&U is expected to be authoritative, detailed, and explain why it is correct. It's best if you edit your answer to provide more information - e.g., add a published definition of roil (linked to the source) and perhaps some examples of its use. For further guidance, see How to Answer and take the EL&U Tour :-) – Chappo Says SE Dudded Monica Jan 23 '19 at 7:23
  • Hi Chappo. No worries, this will be the last time I offer an answer. – Jeremy Jan 23 '19 at 23:55

The expression I'd use is "cloud (up) the water":

make or become less clear or transparent.
Oxford Dictionaries

For example:

  • The high winds clouded up the water in area lakes and bays making for tough fishing conditions. — Houma Today

  • U could use the sponge filter first, as the sand is clouding up the water, because the sponge wont break, and then once the sands all settled then you can switch to the hang-on with no problems! :) — do i need a filter


to muddy Vocabulary.com literal

make turbid “muddy the water”

As in:

John muddied the water.


Mussed up

You could say ‘John mussed up the water’. It means to make messy, it includes the idea of ‘roil’, it’s often used for messy hair, it has a sense of movement, with messiness.


  • 1
    Could you provide an example of "muss" being applied to water? I've only ever heard it applied to hair, people, or in generic phrases like no muss, no fuss. I'd find it strange to be applied to water. – TaliesinMerlin Jan 23 '19 at 14:24

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