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Feb 5, 2018
This week’s theme
Words to describe people

This week’s words
snollygoster
highbinder
wirepuller
four-flusher
jackleg

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

If you have been wondering what word to use to describe that good-for-nothing person -- a neighbor, a colleague, or a president -- you are in luck. Things are going to get colorful this week, linguistically speaking. We present you with five vivid, offbeat, American words -- what you do with them is up to you.

snollygoster

PRONUNCIATION:
(SNOL-ee gos-tuhr)

MEANING:
noun: A shrewd, unprincipled person.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of uncertain origin, perhaps an alteration of snallygaster, a mythical creature said to prey on poultry and children, possibly from Pennsylvania Dutch schnelle geeschter, from German schnell (quick) + Geist (spirit). Earliest documented use: 1846.

NOTES:
According to a Georgia editor, “A snollygoster is a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform, or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy.”

USAGE:
“Where do you find lawyers like this snollygoster?”
Malcolm Berko; Dunkin’ Donuts May Be Full of Holes; Herald Sun with Chapel Hill Herald (Durham, North Carolina); Jun 10, 2012.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
In America, anybody can be president. That's one of the risks you take. -Adlai Stevenson, statesman (5 Feb 1900-1965)

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