Mutt: something new (or rather old)

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Aug 13 20:36:31 UTC 2012

I went to check my 1898 "mut" = "poor child" citation (which I presented
in 2004) and I found that the N'archive copy was inconclusive because of
lack of internal dating and erroneous pagination. So I looked for other
versions (often these short stories were printed again and again in
small newspapers). And I found the same story -- George H. Hepworth's
"Reuben Caggs'[s] Theory" -- in some other papers at the "Fulton
History" site.

The earliest ones appear to be dated 1892.

Here is the earliest one which has clear internal dating (another is
ostensibly dated slightly earlier in 1892, and presumably an 'original'
version can be found in the "New York Independent"):\Index%20O-G-T&HitCount=19&hits=84a+896+960+9c4+a8b+bc5+be8+db3+e1d+e48+ece+f07+f56+1140+1161+1208+132e+1364+1416+&S



_Mexico Independent_, Mexico NY, 8 June 1892: p. 1:

<<Just here a little mut thrust his head in at the door and shouted
"Extree!" He couldn't have been more than eight years old, and was
barefooted and bareheaded. .... The eight year old mut crossed the room
and stood wistfully looking into Caggs' face. .... Round the corner into
Thompson street we found our way, two well-dressed men, and the shabby
little mut. .... The mut burst in with a loud yell. .... -- George H.
Hepworth in N. Y. Independent>>


I guess this is earlier than other "mutt"/"mut" citations ... and it
does not refer to an idiot, or to a dog, or to a horse.

I guess I still would have to speculate that the "dog" sense was
primary, but the available record seems even less convincing now. Maybe
some other early citations can be found.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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