a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884.
a person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, especially in politics; a person who is neutral on a controversial issue.

Origin of mugwump

1830–35, Americanism; artificial 19th-cent. revival of Massachusett (E spelling) mugquomp, syncopated form of muggumquomp war leader (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *memekw- perhaps, swift + *-a·pe·w man)
Related formsmug·wump·er·y, mug·wump·ism, nounmug·wump·i·an, adjectivemug·wump·ish, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for mugwump

Historical Examples of mugwump

  • There was only one degree lower, and that was to be a mugwump.

    A Far Country, Complete

    Winston Churchill

  • The baby is a Mugwump—I know it 'cause he howls all the time.

  • This cynic, this philosopher, this mugwump says Sir Walter was a genuine man.

  • Frank is the politician of the concern; the greenback, anti-monopoly, mugwump man!

    A Man of Samples

    Wm. H. Maher

  • He was opposed by Aristides, who was a very just man, and an anti-imperialist and "mugwump."

    The Ifs of History

    Joseph Edgar Chamberlin

British Dictionary definitions for mugwump



US a neutral or independent person, esp in politics
Derived Formsmugwumpery or mugwumpism, nounmugwumpish, adjective

Word Origin for mugwump

C19: from Algonquian: great chief, from mogki great + -omp man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for mugwump

1832, jocular for "great man, boss, important person," American English, from Algonquian (Natick) mugquomp "important person" (derived from mugumquomp "war leader"); used from 1884 of Republicans who refused to support James G. Blaine's presidential candidacy, hence "one who holds himself aloof from party politics."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper