muck-a-muck = bigwig (1883)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Thu Dec 30 21:51:48 UTC 2004

On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 04:29:48 -0700, Art Goodtimes
<cloudacre at NORWOODCOLORADO.US> wrote:

>is "muckety-muck" a more recent variant?

Yep.  As with "muck-a-muck", the original form of "muckety-muck" begins
with "high" (a folk etymology from Chinook jargon <hiu> 'plenty' +
<mucka-muck> 'food').  The first cite that Newspaperarchive has for "high
muckety-muck" is from 1915:

1915 _Indianapolis Star_ 3 Apr. 3/2 (heading) High muckety-mucks are named
by Indiana Society.

Without "high", the earliest cite is from 1927 (though note that it uses
"high society", so this is perhaps transitional):

1927 _Lima (Ohio) News_ 26 May 13/4 And I helped him get the dope on the
high society muckety-mucks for his Hindu fakir, Namir Sadh.
[From _Daughters of Midas_, a serialized novel by Anne Austin.]
1928 _Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune_ 14 Mar. 4/2 Now Lukowsky has a
savings book with an entry of $1600 in it presented to him by what he
terms the "big muckety-mucks."

The OED3 draft entry has a 1928 cite from Claude McKay's _Home to Harlem_
with the spelling "mucty-muck".

--Ben Zimmer

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