• synonyms


noun U.S. History.
  1. a Northerner who sympathized with the South during the controversies over new territories and slavery before the Civil War.
  2. a congressman from a northern state not opposed to slavery in the South.
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Origin of doughface

An Americanism dating back to 1785–95; dough + face
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for doughface

Historical Examples

  • Doughface democracy among us has squalled as if receiving deadly wounds at every proposal to crush or injure the foe.

    The Continental Monthly, Vol. 2, No 3, September, 1862


  • While the South is entitled to the palm of victory for shot-gun Democracy, the North is a fair competitor for doughface flunkyism.

  • A Doughface press may cry, Compromise; and try to restore the status quo ante bellum, but all in vain.

  • In this sense Lincoln, with his life-long record of opposition to the extension of slavery, was a doughface.

Word Origin and History for doughface


contemptuous nickname in U.S. politics for Northern Democrats who worked in the interest of the South before the Civil War; it was taken to mean "man who allows himself to be moulded." The source is an 1820 speech by John Randolph of Roanoke, in the wake of the Missouri Compromise.

Randolph, mocking the northerners intimidated by the South, referred to a children's game in which the players daubed their faces with dough and then looked in a mirror and scared themselves. [Daniel Walker Howe, "What Hath God Wrought," 2007]

Mask of dough is recorded from 1809, and the same image Randolph used is attested in another context by 1833.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper