[Ads-l] bung-smellers and stamp-stickers

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 31 03:40:45 UTC 2017

As a byproduct of my looking at various offices and titles attached to the "dog-catcher" insult, I ran across two insults that were new to me.  Both of them are informal titles of government liquor law inspectors or agents.

"bung-smeller" (who presumably sniffed out alcohol in kegs - compare "bung sniffer" in the urban dictionary) and "stamp-sticker" (who presumably stuck tax stamps on liquor vessels).

On Newspapers.com, both expressions first appear in the Weekly Caucasian in Lexington, Missouri in April/May 1870.  "Bung-smeller" on April 2, 1870, page , and "stamp-sticker" on May 22, 1870, page 2.

"Bung-smeller" is used in one of the most colorful analogues of the "dog-catcher" insult I have run across:

"An obscurity-spawned, slum-hatched, curmudgeonish nonentity, who couldn't honestly or legally, have got 500 votes out of all our 1,250,000 population, for constable, bung-smeller or municipal dog-pelter."

The Weekly Caucasian (Lexington, Missouri), May 10, 1873, page 1.

Dog-pelter is a term for dog-catcher that predates dog-catcher.

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

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