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Word of the Day
Monday, May 10, 2010

Definitions for mugwump

  1. 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.
  2. a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884.

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Citations for mugwump
I was very anxious to keep him in his place, but at first I could not think of any way to help him, for I was a mugwump. We, the mugwumps, a little company made up of the unenslaved of both parties, the very best men to be found in the two great parties--that was our idea of it--voted sixty thousand strong for Mr. Cleveland in New York and elected him. Mark Twain, "Chapters from My Autobiography.--VII," North American Review, December 7, 1906
Dewey's problem will be to corral the great and growing army of independents and "mugwumps." Mugwumps are those conscientious citizens like the anti-Blaine Republicans of 1884 who, by leaving their party, frequently decide elections. , "Nominee Dewey," Life, July 10, 1944
Origin of mugwump
1830-1835
Mugwump dates from the 1800s and is an artificial 19th-century revival of Massachusett, the extinct Algonquian language of the Massachusett and Wampanoag American Indians. Mugwump is a syncopated form of muggumquomp meaning “war leader.”