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Unfurl yourselves under my banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes, wrote Mark Twain sometime around 1869. Twain was among the first writers to use guttersnipe for a young hoodlum or street urchin. In doing so, he was following a trend among writers of the time to associate gutter (a low area at the side of a road) with a low station in life. Other writers in the late 19th century used guttersnipe more literally as a name for certain kinds of snipes, or birds with long thin beaks that live in wet areas. Gutter-bird was another term that was used at that time for both birds and disreputable persons. And even snipe itself has a history as a term of opprobrium; it was used as such during Shakespeare’s day.
First Known Use of guttersnipe
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