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What Is The Origin Of The American Phrase, "My Name Is Mud" (or, "My Name Will Be Mud")?

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Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
Americans use these phrases to mean that if they do something, their good name will be as besmirched as mud -- reduced to a terrible reputation, made very unpopular.

Commonly the phrase is said to originate with the legacy of Dr. Samuel Mudd, a medical doctor who abetted John Wilkes Booth. Booth was the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Certainly Samuel Mudd's actions may have strengthened the colloquialism in the popular mind. However the actual phrase is much much older -- one of the first recorded usages dates from 1823, ten years before Samuel Mudd was even born.

Other sources state that "Mud" used to refer to an oaf, or a stupid man, as commonly understood in 18th century English (if not before).

It may be also that "Mud" -- when the phrase was first coined -- really did refer to wet dirt itself -- your name being mud is like becoming synonymous with something very unclean and possibly downright disease-ridden.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Merde, pronounced with a snooty English accent, sounds just like "mud" but means about the same thing. It is the French word for sh!t.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
After John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, he jumped off the balcony to escape and broke his leg in the process.  His leg would later be set and mended by one Dr. Mudd as historical testimony/rumors would have it.

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