mug·​wump | \ ˈməg-ˌwəmp How to pronounce mugwump (audio) \

Definition of mugwump

1 : a bolter from the Republican party in 1884
2 : a person who is independent (as in politics) or who remains undecided or neutral

Did You Know?

Mugwump is an anglicized version of a word used by Massachusett Indians to mean "war leader." The word was sometimes jestingly applied in early America to someone who was the "head guy." The first political mugwumps were Republicans in the presidential race of 1884 who chose to support Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland rather than their own party's nominee. Their independence prompted one 1930s humorist to define a mugwump as "a bird who sits with its mug on one side of the fence and its wump on the other."

First Known Use of mugwump

1884, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for mugwump

obsolete slang mugwump kingpin, from Massachusett mugquomp, muggumquomp war leader

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The first known use of mugwump was in 1884

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Cite this Entry

“Mugwump.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

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