- A person who remains aloof or independent, especially from party politics.
“Since we have an even number today, I’m going to remain a mugwump and not vote.”
“While he’s lived in this county his whole life, he’s always been a mugwump and never gets involved in local issues.”
“She preferred to remain a mugwump rather than sign on with either party for the campaign.”
Algonquian, mid-19th century
Why this word?
An independent voter can be called a “mugwump,” from the Algonquin word “mugquomp,” meaning “great chief.” It’s a common noun today, but in 1884, a Mugwump was a member of a specific faction of the Republican Party that refused to support James G. Blaine for President. The Mugwumps instead backed the Democratic nominee Grover Cleveland, who became the 22nd (and later 24th) President.
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