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[muhg-wuhmp] /ˈmʌgˌwʌmp/
a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884.
a person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, especially in politics; a person who is neutral on a controversial issue.
Origin of mugwump
1830-35, Americanism; artificial 19th-cent. revival of Massachusett (E spelling) mugquomp, syncopated form of muggumquomp war leader (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *memekw- perhaps, swift + *-a·pe·w man)
Related forms
mugwumpery, mugwumpism, noun
mugwumpian, adjective
mugwumpish, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for mugwump
Historical Examples
  • I was very anxious to keep him in his place, but at first I could not think of any way to help him, for I was a mugwump.

  • There was only one degree lower, and that was to be a mugwump.

    A Far Country, Complete Winston Churchill
  • One hears nothing oftener now than the admonition to remain true to his party; party men despise nothing so much as a mugwump.

    The Ego and His Own Max Stirner
  • The baby is a mugwump—I know it 'cause he howls all the time.

  • The use of mugwump is commonly thought to have originated in the Blaine campaign of 1884, but it really goes back to the 30's.

    The American Language Henry L. Mencken
  • This cynic, this philosopher, this mugwump says Sir Walter was a genuine man.

  • One politician said, frankly, "Women are natural mugwumps, and I hate a mugwump."

  • Frank is the politician of the concern; the greenback, anti-monopoly, mugwump man!

    A Man of Samples Wm. H. Maher
  • Was retribution following thus fast because of that subterfuge of mugwump?

    Emmy Lou George Madden Martin
  • Papa said the other day, "I am a mugwump and a mugwump is pure from the marrow out."

British Dictionary definitions for mugwump


(US) a neutral or independent person, esp in politics
Derived Forms
mugwumpery, mugwumpism, noun
mugwumpish, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Algonquian: great chief, from mogki great + -omp man
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for mugwump

1832, jocular for "great man, boss, important person," American English, from Algonquian (Natick) mugquomp "important person" (derived from mugumquomp "war leader"); used from 1884 of Republicans who refused to support James G. Blaine's presidential candidacy, hence "one who holds himself aloof from party politics."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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