Examples of things that are commonly muffled are voices and sounds.
Etymology of muffled:
The word muffle (v.) probably originated from the old French words moufle (n.) which means "a thick mitten" and enmoufle (v.) which means "to wrap up."
By being familiar with the French history of this word, it's possible to figure out the meaning of other words that sound the same.
- To muff (v.) means to handle something clumsily or to drop a ball. This makes sense because wearing thick mittens might make a person clumsy.
- A muff (n.) is a round tube-like covering for hands used to keep them warm. This makes sense because a muff is like mittens that wrap both hands.
A closer look at what muffled means:
A muffled (adj.) sound can be desirable or not depending on the situation.
A student studying in their room who is distracted by the sounds of heavy traffic outside their window might try to muffle (v.) the sound by putting their hands over their ears. Conversely, the same student might have a hard time hearing instructions because the teacher's voice is muffled (v.) due to a sinus infection. In this case, the student might move closer to the teacher in order to hear better.
Words you know to help you remember the meaning of muffled:
The noise and fumes from a car are muffled (v.) by a device called a muffler (n.).
Another name for a thick winter scarf is a muffler (n.), because it can be wrapped around the face to muffle (v.) the sound and impact of harsh winds.
Muffled used in context:
Because of the cold weather, the girl wore her new muffler and muff to the ballgame. She got to the stadium and found her seat, but she began to suspect she had muffed her ticket purchased when she realized she was sitting in a section reserved for the opposing team's fans whose rowdy behavior muffled the words of the announcer. The girl was relieved when several muffed catches by star players resulted in a wide lead by the home team that quieted the disruptive fans.