mugwump

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about mugwump

Time Traveler for mugwump

Time Traveler

The first known use of mugwump was in 1884

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about mugwump

Statistics for mugwump

Cite this Entry

“Mugwump.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mugwump. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

More from Merriam-Webster on mugwump

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with mugwump

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about mugwump

Comments on mugwump

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

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!