Thursday, December 06, 2007

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Locofoco

(Where are the locofocos?)

Locofoco \loh-kuh-FOH-koh\ noun
Merriam Webster Dictionary

1 : a member of a radical group of New York Democrats organized in 1835 in opposition to the regular party organization

*2 : a member of the Democratic party of the United States
Example sentence:

“It might be said that Roosevelt was the greatest locofoco since Andrew Jackson.” (Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins)

“Locofoco” burned brightest in 19th-cenutry America, where it designated a new type of self-igniting match or cigar capable of being lit by friction on a hard surface. The word is believed to combine the adjective “locomotive” (which was commonly taken to mean “self-propelled,” though “loco” actually means “place,” not “self,” in Latin) and the Italian word for “fire,” “fuoco.” The political meaning of “Locofoco” is a story in itself. In 1835, a group of radical Democrats brought locofoco matches to one of their meetings after hearing that their adversaries were plotting to disrupt the meeting by putting out the gas lights. The room did indeed go black but was soon relit, thus earning the group its name.

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