Fun Fact March 3, 2021.
3 March 2021
Do you know a snollygoster? I’ll bet you do and don’t even know it. The word came into English in the 1800s and refers to a shrewd and unprincipled person, and especially an unprincipled politician. Some etymologists thought the word may have it’s roots in the word snallygaster, which is used to describe a mythical creature from rural Maryland that is half reptile and half bird, and which purportedly preys on chickens and children. The problem is that snollygoster appears in print before snallygaster. President Truman used the word in a speech in West Virginia in 1952 and when asked what it meant he replied “it refers to a man born out of wedlock.” Reporters quickly rushed to their dictionaries and found Harry was wrong. The word can mean a number of things from tadpoles to politicians, but not what Truman had thought it meant. As far as habitat, it appears that snollygosters prefer to live in the swamp.