Welcome to another installment of SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS, a regular Wednesday feature at NA Confidential.

But why all these newfangled words?

Why not the old, familiar, comforting words, the ones that worked so well during the glory days, before inexplicably naked greed kicked in like a bond-issue percentage speedball, knocking you back into the turnbuckles but feeling oh so good, and now as the Great Elongated and Exasperated Obfuscator in the comic book series, you teach detailed principles of banking to bankers, at least when not otherwise occupied making healthy deposits into your own account?

Thankfully, even if one toils for the Genius of the Flood Plain, a healthy vocabulary isn’t about intimidation through erudition. Not at all. Rather, it’s about selecting the right word and using it correctly, whatever one’s pay grade or station in life.

Municipal corporate attorneys reaping handsome remuneration to suppress information and squelch community dialogue also can benefit from this enlightening expansion of personal horizons, and really, as we contemplate CPIs, IUDs and IOUs, all we really have is time — and the opportunity to learn something, if we’re so inclined.

This week’s word is mugwump.




1. a Republican who refused to support the party nominee, James G. Blaine, in the presidential campaign of 1884

2. a person who is unable to make up his or her mind on an issue, especially in politics; a person who is neutral on a controversial issue

Origin of mugwump

1830-35, Americanism; artificial 19th-cent. revival of Massachusett (E spelling) mugquomp, syncopated form of muggumquomp war leader (equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *memekw– perhaps, swift + *-a·pe·w man)

Related forms

mugwumpery, mugwumpism, noun
mugwumpian, adjective
mugwumpish, adjective

Here’s the weekly sentence, and it’s a doozie. Somehow it conjures images of a Redevelopment Commission meeting.

“The boy looks into Mugwump eyes blank as obsidian mirrors, pools of black blood, glory holes in a toilet wall closing on the Last Erection.”
― William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch