Locofoco

noun Lo·co·fo·co \ ˌlō-kə-ˈfō-(ˌ)kō \

Definition of Locofoco

plural Locofocos
1 : a member of a radical group of New York Democrats organized in 1835 in opposition to the regular party organization
2 : democrat 2

Locofoco was our Word of the Day on 12/06/2007. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

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

after locofoco, trade name of a cigar or match lit by friction, perhaps from loco- (in 1locomotive, taken to mean "self-moving") + -foco, altered from Italian fuoco or Spanish fuego "fire" (going back to Latin focus "hearth"); the political group allegedly named from a meeting held at Tammany Hall, New York, on Oct. 29, 1835, at which friction matches were used to light candles after the gaslights were turned off by the group's opponents — more at 1focus


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up Locofoco? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

ditzy

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!