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Feb 19, 2019
This week’s theme
Words with presidential connections

This week’s words
OK
sockdolager
teddy bear
watergate
throttlebottom

sockdolager
Ford’s Theater scene in the Abraham Lincoln Museum, Springfield, Illinois
Image: Wikimedia

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

sockdolager

PRONUNCIATION:
(sok-DOL-uh-juhr)

MEANING:
noun:
1. A decisive blow or remark.
2. Something exceptional or outstanding.

ETYMOLOGY:
Of unknown origin, apparently from sock. Earliest documented use: 1830.

NOTES:
The word sockdolager has an unusual claim to fame in US history. It turned out to be the cue on which John Wilkes Booth fired his shot at the 16th US President, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), in Ford’s Theater. Lincoln was watching the play Our American Cousin and Booth, an actor himself and aware of the dialog, knew the line that brought the loudest burst of laughter from the audience was:

“Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologising old man-trap.”

Booth fired his gun at that precise moment to muffle the loud noise of his shot with the guffaws from the audience.

USAGE:
“Well, here’s a sockdolager. A new poll says nearly half of Canadians can’t name a single Canadian author.”
John Robson; Not Reading, It’s the Canadian Way; The Ottawa Citizen (Canada); Jan 2, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations. -Anonymous (often misattributed to George Orwell)

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