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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:
Entire Thread Subject Posted By Posted Today's Word wwh 02/13/02 02:49 PM Re: Today's Word WhitmanO'Neill 02/14/02 03:23 AM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/14/02 02:20 PM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/14/02 02:29 PM Re: Today's Word Faldage 02/14/02 03:07 PM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/14/02 04:21 PM Re: Today's Word Faldage 02/14/02 04:35 PM Re: Today's Word tsuwm 02/14/02 05:59 PM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/14/02 06:24 PM Re: Today's Word of troy 02/14/02 07:15 PM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/14/02 08:32 PM Re: Today's Word wwh 02/18/02 02:39 PM Re: Today's Word Keiva 02/18/02 04:47 PM Re: Booth the Mummy WhitmanO'Neill 02/18/02 11:09 PM Re: Your name is mud, but not the Dr.'s WhitmanO'Neill 02/18/02 11:32 PM Re: bloviate wwh 02/19/02 04:04 PM Re: bloviate tsuwm 02/19/02 06:53 PM Re: bloviate wwh 02/19/02 08:14 PM Re: bloviate tsuwm 02/19/02 08:29 PM Re: bloviate Keiva 02/19/02 08:34 PM Re: bloviate Sparteye 02/19/02 11:06 PM Re: gategate wwh 02/20/02 02:02 PM Re: Bills Gate maverick 02/20/02 02:13 PM Re: Bills Gate wwh 02/20/02 02:19 PM Re: Bills Gate maverick 02/20/02 02:26 PM Re: Bills Gate wwh 02/20/02 02:39 PM Re: Bills Gate Faldage 02/20/02 03:24 PM Re: Gating and fencing Keiva 02/20/02 05:01 PM Re: pocket veto wwh 02/21/02 02:42 PM wwftd AnnaStrophic 02/22/02 03:04 PM Re: throttlebottom wwh 02/22/02 03:27 PM Re: throttlebottom Faldage 02/22/02 04:09 PM Re: throttlebottom wwh 02/22/02 05:01 PM Re: throttlebottom Faldage 02/22/02 05:47 PM Re: Bills Gate Faldage 02/20/02 02:26 PM Re: Throttlebottom hev 02/24/02 09:25 PM Re: proscenium wwh 02/28/02 05:05 PM Re:philomath wwh 03/04/02 05:28 PM Re:philomath Bean 03/05/02 05:27 PM Re:philomath wwh 03/05/02 06:32 PM Re:philomathic philosophers Faldage 03/05/02 07:08 PM Re:philomathic philosophers wwh 03/05/02 08:15 PM Re:wise vs. learned Faldage 03/05/02 08:30 PM Re:wise vs. learned wwh 03/05/02 08:50 PM Oh my! consuelo 03/06/02 11:18 AM Re: Oh my! Keiva 03/06/02 12:24 PM Re: Oh my! wwh 03/06/02 02:19 PM Re: Oh my! Keiva 03/06/02 04:29 PM Re: Oh my! slithy toves 03/06/02 08:51 PM iracund boronia 03/08/02 01:56 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 02:52 PM Re: iracund boronia 03/08/02 02:54 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 03:15 PM Re: iracund boronia 03/08/02 03:21 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 03:47 PM Re: iracund boronia 03/08/02 04:02 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 04:08 PM Re: iracund boronia 03/08/02 04:22 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 04:46 PM Re: iracund of troy 03/08/02 05:06 PM Re: iracund boronia 03/08/02 05:37 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/08/02 09:27 PM Re: iracund wwh 03/09/02 05:56 PM Re: ukase wwh 03/11/02 02:58 PM Re: troika wwh 03/12/02 02:56 PM Re: troika wwh 03/13/02 03:53 PM Re: glasnost wwh 03/14/02 08:42 PM Re: glasnost slithy toves 03/15/02 03:19 AM Re: Russian words tsuwm 03/15/02 04:51 AM Re: Russian words Rapunzel 03/15/02 01:27 PM Re: Russian words wwh 03/15/02 02:02 PM Re: Russian words tsuwm 03/15/02 03:04 PM Re: glasnost wwh 03/15/02 04:20 PM Re: glasnost tsuwm 03/15/02 04:36 PM Re: glasnost wwh 03/15/02 05:12 PM Re: those islands tsuwm 03/15/02 05:56 PM Re: those islands Keiva 03/15/02 07:04 PM Re: glasnost consuelo 03/30/02 08:46 PM Re: glasnost Keiva 03/15/02 06:44 PM Re: Quemoy & Matsu Faldage 03/15/02 06:07 PM Re: -und-is-guised Keiva 03/08/02 10:47 PM Re: OED help, please? Keiva 03/08/02 11:07 PM Re: OED help, please? wwh 03/08/02 11:25 PM
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