October 1st, 2013


Tuesday Word: scarper

To scarper is to leave or flee. You can scarper by simply heading home at the end of the day, or you can scarper from a grizzly bear (good luck with that one) or a collapsing building. Scarper is often used in a less general sense, however, to refer to the act of skipping out on a bill or fleeing in order to avoid the consequences of one's actions.

Scarper is from the Italian scappare, meaning "to escape," and likely crossed into English via Cockney and/or Polari rhyming slang, in which "scapa flow" means "go." Scapa Flow is also a natural harbor in Scotland's Orkney Islands.

not-Monday-anymore word: mugwump

mugwump (mgwmp), noun.
1.  United States Republican party members who left the party to support Democratic presidential candidate Grover Cleveland in the 1884 presidential election.
2.  A person who acts independently or remains neutral, especially in politics.

In the world of Harry Potter, The Supreme Mugwump is the head of the International Confederation of Wizards.

"Mugwump Specific" was a patent medicine for veneral disease in the late 19th century.

"Mugwump" is also a fictional creature in William S. Burrough's novel "Naked Lunch".

Etymology:  From the Algonquin word mugquomp, kingpin or important person.  Charles Anderson Dana, editor of the New York Sun, may have been the first to refer to the party members as 'mugwumps'.