• WordNet 3.6
    • n mugwump a neutral or uncommitted person (especially in politics)
    • n Mugwump someone who bolted from the Republican Party during the U.S. presidential election of 1884
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • mugwump A bolter from the Republican party in the national election of 1884; an Independent.
    • mugwump A person who is undecided about an issue, especially a political one; a person who takes a neutral stance on an issue; a fence-sitter.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n mugwump An Indian chief, an Indian leader. Said to have been used among the Indians and whites of Massachusetts and Connecticut in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
    • n mugwump A person of importance; a man of consequence; a leader. In this sense long in local use along the coast of Massachusetts and the Connecticut shore of Long Island Sound.
    • n mugwump Hence— A person who thinks himself of consequence; a self-important man: a humorous or satirical use of the preceding. In this sense the word was also long in local use as above, and occasionally appeared in print (as in the Indianapolis “Sentinel,” in 1872, and the New York “Sun,” March 23d, 1884).
    • n mugwump [In a “song” following the above, in the “negro” dialect, the same person is referred to as “ole mug,” and “honest, honest, mugwump coon.”]
    • n mugwump [capitalized] In United States political history, one of the Independent members of the Republican party who in 1884 openly refused to support the nominee (June 6th) of that party for the presidency of the United States, and either voted for the Democratic or the Prohibitionist candidate or abstained from voting. The word was not generally known in any sense before this time, but it took the popular fancy, and was at once accepted by the Independents themselves as an honorable title. [U. S. political slang in this sense and the next.]
    • n mugwump In general, an independent.
    • mugwump Of or pertaining to a mugwump (in sense 2 ).
    • mugwump [See also note following the first quotation under I., 2.]
    • mugwump Of or pertaining to a political mugwump (in sense 3 or 4).
    • mugwump To act like a mugwump; assert one's independence.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Mugwump mug′wump an Indian chief: a person of great importance, or who thinks himself so: a humorous political use of the above.
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Cf. Algonquin mugquomp, a chief
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Algonkin mugquomp, a great man.


In literature:

Both have been zealous Democrats; both have been zealous Republicans; both have been zealous Mugwumps.
"What Is Man? And Other Stories" by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
MUGWUMP, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence.
"The Devil's Dictionary" by Ambrose Bierce
Of course I can tell him that I am a Mugwump, but what if he asks me why I am a Mugwump?
"Penelope's English Experiences" by Kate Douglas Wiggin
They thought this would offset the charges made by the 'mugwump' committee.
"My Memories of Eighty Years" by Chauncey M. Depew
Who were the "Mugwumps"?
"A Short History of the United States" by Edward Channing
Mr. Thompson then introduced Mr. Franklin H. Head, who, he said, was a Mugwump.
"Eugene Field, A Study In Heredity And Contradictions" by Slason Thompson
He nicknamed them "mugwumps" and continued to vote the regular tickets of his party.
"The Promise Of American Life" by Herbert David Croly
It was a universal huzzah, from Mugwumps, Republicans, and Democrats.
"T. De Witt Talmage" by T. De Witt Talmage
The Mugwumps are the guests of the Democratic Party.
"The Bay State Monthly, Volume 3, No. 4" by Various
Civil Service Reform seems to-day to be the mare of the Mugwumps and the nightmare of everybody else.
"The Bay State Monthly, Volume 3, No. 5" by Various