"mushroom family", not in OED (except in one quotation)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Sep 30 22:10:54 UTC 2013

Not in OED3, but it appears in a quotation under "blue, adj. and n.",
sense 5.b., " Designating a class or group of people traditionally
distinguished by the wearing of blue; ...":

1718   C. Molloy Coquet v. 84   Her Fortune is not contemptible, nor
is she of a Mushroom Family. We did not rise from a Blue Livery.

Found also in the New-Bedford Mercury, 1837 Aug. 18, 4/2:

"They [the two Loyalist daughters of Mather Byles] were true haters
of modern reform, and spoke of mushroom families with all the
bitterness of mortified satirists."

The sense I get (from both quotations) is of a (family) line that has
sprung up out of lowly circumstances (decayed matter); somewhat
similar to nouveau riche, at least in their "ostentatious or vulgar fashion".

Should be added as a combined form under :mushroom".


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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