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#57713 - 02/19/02 12:34 PM Your name is mud, but not the Dr.'s
WhitmanO'Neill Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/13/01
Posts: 4189
Loc: Rio Grande, Cape May County, N...
I'm moving this up from "Today's Word" because, since I somehow got recruited to re-enact Mr. Booth three years ago (that's a whole nother story, folks) I've researched all facets of his character heavily. And, so, triggered my his mention in Monday's word I'm doing this for my own intrigue. I learned of the true source of the "your name is mud/your name will be mud" phrase in the mid-80's...it was indeed, a minor revelation,
but I forgot, and can't find it again. I can validate that Dr. Mudd's attending to Booth's broken leg after the assassination was NOT the true source, although that historical scenario has usurped its origin in many people's eyes. But the origin of the phrase goes back much further than that. Looking for the true source. Here's the Booth/Dr. Mudd refutation.

from http://www.word-detective.com/100297.html

Mud on the superhighway.

Dear Word Detective: I've searched the entire World Wide Web looking for the origin of the
phrase "Your name will be mud." I think it might have come from the name of the doctor
who
treated John Wilkes Booth (Dr. Mudd, I presume). -- Jerry McFadyen, via the Internet.

Searched the whole web, eh? Well, by now I'm sure that you've come to the same
conclusion
that I reached a while back, namely that if you're looking for solid, useful information on
the
Internet, you're barking up the wrong medium. There are exceptions, to be sure, but in
general trying to do serious research on the web is akin to asking a housecat for help with
your homework. Someone needs to explain this to Al Gore.

Thank heavens for books, therefore, especially ones such as "Devious Derivations," written
by Hugh Rawson and published by Crown. Mr Rawson devotes an entire page in his book to
the theory you have evidently heard: that the phrase "Your name will be mud" is
connected
somehow to the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd who treated President Abraham Lincoln's assassin,
John Wilkes Booth. Doctor Mudd may or may not have been in on the 1865 assassination
conspiracy with Booth, who had broken his leg escaping from the scene of his crime. In
any case, Mudd was convicted of conspiracy in the trial that followed, and his name, to the
general public, certainly became "mud" in the sense of the phrase -- despised and reviled.

But Doctor Mudd's name is certainly no more than an interesting coincidence, for it cannot
have been the source of the phrase. "Mud" had already been in use for more than 200
years, since at least 1708, as a slang term for a fool. According to Christine Ammer, in her book "Have A Nice Day -- No Problem!" (a very fine dictionary of cliches published by Plume), "mud" was commonly applied in the 19th century British Parliament to any member who lost an election or otherwise disgraced himself.

The Phrase Finder also validates this:
http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/meanings/424000.html


(also see the "Booth the Mummy" thread on Misc. for some something very intriguing, and weird)


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#57714 - 02/19/02 01:27 PM Re: Your name is mud, but not the Dr.'s
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10513
Loc: this too shall pass
I can't quite piece together the whole story, but it seems to stem from an obsolete slang sense of the word mud meaning 'fool' which came from Memoirs Right Villanous John Hall (1708), and was later cited as follows:
1823 ‘J. BEE’ Slang 122 Mud a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!’ ejaculated upon the conclusion of a silly oration, or of a leader in the Courier.


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#57715 - 02/19/02 06:05 PM Re: Your name is mud, but not the Dr.'s
GallantTed Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 11/07/01
Posts: 273
Loc: Ireland
Howya Whitty

I concur with Tsuwm - we must have the same Tedasaurus.

GT


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