Mull over Vs take stock

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  • reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    No, they are not really "interchangeable" although they mean almost the same thing. The context will determine which verb fits.....for example:

    1 - Father to wayward (undisciplined) son: "You better take stock of your situation and decide soon if you want to go to college or join the Army.

    2 - She mulled over the past 20 years of her empty and aimless life and finally decided to enter a nunnery at age 45.

    Note: (A closer synonym to mull (over) than "to take stock of " is......"to ponder")


    Senior Member
    English - US
    To literally "take stock" is to go into the place you keep your inventory and count all the items that you have.
    To literally "mull" something like wine is to heat it with spices to let the flavors of the spices merge with the wine. Sort of just letting it "cook" for a long time so the flavors soak in.
    Think about how those literal meanings might be used as a metaphor. Someone taking stock might count the pros and cons, try to find additional arguments, etc. Someone mulling over is thinking it over again and again letting their ideas process.


    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    'Mull over' doesn't have any implication of ending or deciding. You can mull over things for a long time without changing anything you do. 'Take stock' is more directed towards a decision. The image is, I suppose, of commercial stock or supplies: what have you got 'in stock'? What are your options? You need to decide, based on where you are now and what you can do.
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