Word of the Day

mugwump

Someone who cannot or will not decide which side they are on, especially in politics

The word ‘mugwump’ originates from the US where, during the mid 19th century, the Algonquian Indians used ‘mugquomp’ to mean a war leader or chieftain.



‘Mugwump’, the anglicized form of the Algonquian word first appeared in a political context in 1884 during the US presidential election campaign. The word was used to describe Republicans that chose to support the Democratic candidate rather than the nominee of their own party.

This seldom used word popped up recently in an article in the Sun newspaper. Written by the sometimes controversial foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, the article referred to the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, as a “mutton-headed old mugwump.”

mugwump

someone who cannot or will not decide which side they are on, especially in politics
I was so disillusioned with the Republicans that I became a mugwump for the next twenty years.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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3 Comments

  • Sometimes defined as an undecided person with his head on one side of the fence and his wump on the other.

  • My favorite (joking) definition of “mugwump” said that “A mugwump is a fellow with his mug on one side of the fence, and his wump on the other.” (“Mug” is an old slang word for face, and “wump” evidently means “rump.”) The definition has been attrib. to former Princeton president Harold Willis Dodds, but he denied it and said it would have to be ascribed to Anonymous.

  • I always from the 1950s understood a Mugwumps to be any indecisive person “sitting on the fence with their mug on one side and their wump on the other”.

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