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Locofoco burned brightest in 19th-cenutry America, where it designated a new type of self-igniting match or cigar capable of being lit by friction on a hard surface. The word is believed to combine the adjective locomotive (which was commonly taken to mean "self-propelled," though loco actually means "place," not "self," in Latin) and the Italian word for "fire," fuoco. The political meaning of Locofoco is a story in itself. In 1835, a group of radical Democrats brought locofoco matches to one of their meetings after hearing that their adversaries were plotting to disrupt the meeting by putting out the gas lights. The room did indeed go black but was soon relit, thus earning the group its name.
Origin and Etymology of locofoco
locofoco, a kind of friction match, probably from 1locomotive + Italian fuoco, foco fire, from Latin focus hearth
First Known Use: 1835
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