When Teddy Roosevelt and other declared Republicans refused to support the candidacy of James G. Blaine in the 1884 election, and instead threw their support to Democrat Grover Cleveland, Charles Dana of the New York Sun labeled them mugwumps.

While the political history explains why the term refers to independent minded voters who buck their party, I think Benny Hill summed it up nicely: what's the definition of a mugwump?
A fellow with his mug on one side of a fence and his wump on the other.

A Mugwump is a creature from the movie (and book) Naked Lunch. It is notable for, as Roy Scheider's character notes, "Mugwump Jism! It's aaallllll mugwump jism these days." Essentially, Mugwumps secrete strange pasty substances from their heads. They are replacements for typewriters, and if they like what you write, they secrete different sorts of intoxicating goo...no, really, I'm not making this up. I swear. Burroughs is much, much more damaged than I. Well, he was, at least.

Mug"wump` (?), n. [Cf. Algonquin mugquomp a chief.]

A bolter from the Republican party in the national election of 1884; an Independent.

[Political Cant, U.S.]


© Webster 1913.

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