Q: I`m listening to you on XM Public Radio and you`ve rekindled my passion for language. I wonder if you can tell me the origin of the term “mucky muck” in reference to a chic and well-heeled person? The “Muckauck”, which today refers to an important person, is an abbreviated version of “High Muckauck”. And although we now interpret the beginning of the sentence as the English word “high”, its original meaning was quite different. The meaning, which means an important person, first appears as a high muckamuck. This is chinook jargon hiu (abundant) + muckamuck (food). An important visitor or guest has reviewed a banquet, but in English, the first element has been reinterpreted to mean high or important. This meaning in English dates back to 1856, when it was published in the Sacramento Democratic State Journal of 1. November appears: A muddy mud is a person with the highest status or power in an organization. The terms muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck are different variants of the same term. We will look at the words muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck, their definition and origin. We will also look at some examples of their use in sentences. His supporters don`t necessarily believe that – what they like about him is what the kids liked about Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, the fact that he horrifies the powerful, and if you`re pro-duck, give your finger to Congress, the press, the clergy, lawyers, teachers, cake eaters, fat muckety-mucks, to VIPs, to all the people who think they are better than you – you have the power. Take off their pants, and that`s what this candidate does better than anyone else.
(The Chicago Tribune) The origin of this word for an important person comes from Chinook jargon muckamuck, which means food, or when it is used as green to eat. Chinook jargon, not to be confused with the Chinook Indian language, was a pidgin used by traders in the American Northwest, with Chinook, Nootka, English and French at its core. Muckamuck may have originated from the Nootka mahomaq, meaning whale meat, but the latter is uncertain. Muckamuck, mucky-muck, and muckety-muck describe someone who is important, especially someone who is important. The term is usually modified with the word haut, as in haut muckamuck, high mucky-muck and high muckety-muck. Primarily a North American term, it is derived from the Chinook word muckamuck. In the Chinook language, muckamuck means to eat food. Someone who has a lot to eat is rich and probably has a high status in the tribe and is called hiu muckamuck, which means they have a lot to eat. First used as a written word in the mid-nineteenth century, this idea was filtered into the English language around 1912 under the name High Muckamuck.
The muckamuck and mucky-muck can be found in the Oxford English Dictionary, although the muckety-muck is sometimes seen. The term “high muck-a-muck” began in the mid-19th century as American slang for an important or complacent person, according to Cassell`s slang dictionary. (Variations included “big muck-a-muck,” “muckety-muck,” “muckti-muck,” “muckty-muck,” “mucky-muck,” and “mucky-mucky.”) The English use of muckamuck, meaning to eat, dates back to 1838 when it appears in a glossary, Samuel Parker`s Journal of an Exploring Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains: My colleague Gustavo Arellano of sister newspaper New Times in Orange County, OC Weekly, tells me that Hunt has a representative because he rails against corruption. a representative who was lightly tarnished for his role in a scandal involving Gregory Scott Haidl, the son of an OC sheriff`s office. (The Phoenix New Times) In fact, European explorers, settlers, etc. once “muckamuck” to refer to food or provisions (There was also a verb: In the Old Northwest, “muckamuck” was to eat.) Naturalized use dates back to at least 1853, when Theodore Winthrop used it in a letter published ten years later in The Canoe and the Saddle: The aborigine…”put” for the settlement with a kind of legs-do-your-duty-for-the-body-is-in-danger-resolution for his muckamuck. The teachers – the high “Muck-a-Mucks” – tried the fusion and caused confusion. “Cultus [worthless] Muckamuck [food],” Hall replied in Chinook jargon. (The Daily News) Not much more than a narrative necessity, a Hindu from a religious family whose uncle is a sinister mess in a nationalist political party. (The New York Times) Not surprisingly, the verb “mud” meant hoarding money or wealth in the 1400s, another meaning that is outdated. And in the 1500s, a “mucker” was a miser or haven of wealth.
It turned out, according to the OED, that “muckamuck” was originally a Chinook word for food, probably derived from a Nootka word meaning selected whale meat. Theme music by Joshua Stamper 2006©New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP All this seems to indicate Middle English origins for the “Muckauck”, which is a VIP in American slang. But surprisingly, the term seems to come from a completely different direction — not English at all, but the Native American languages of the Pacific Northwest. The term is interchangeable with mucky-muck or muckamuck. The word seems to have been completely naturalized in 1852, when it appeared in the Oregonian on September 25. The first citation of the phrase in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from an 1856 article in the Democratic State Journal of Sacramento: “The professors—high `Muck-a-Mucks`—attempted to merge and created confusion.” It was this use of “muckamuck” that led to the name for a big throw. The word in this sense was originally part of the expression “high muck-a-muck”, which, according to the OED, was apparently adopted by Chinook: hiu (“abundant”) plus muckamuck (“food”). In other words, someone with a lot of food was a big cheese. We stopped once or twice for them to do “muck-a-muck”, that they are ready forty times a day.
But from 1325 until the 19th century, “mud” was also a word for “material wealth, money, especially dirty, corrupting, etc.”, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. This feeling of “dirt” as dirty gain is now obsolete. Why “”? If we do a little research, we find that the noun “mud” was first recorded in 1268, when it was a term for feces, especially manure. In the following century, it was used as a general term for dirt or dirt. And since the early 1400s, the verb “muck” means to remove manure or dirt (as in “mucking in a stable”). From a political point of view, it is usually a person in the leadership of the party or in another influential position.