Don’t Hear This Word Much Anymore: “Sockdolager”


Obscure in origin, although in American use by 1830, the word means “something that settles a matter,” “a decisive blow or answer.” Like a knockout punch.  

A form of the word is contained in the biggest laugh line of the comedy, Our American Cousin:

“I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, you sockdologizing old man-trap.”

As the audience at Ford Theater on April 14, 1865 roared in response, John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head.


Filed under: Overheard

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