Muggles

Anna Clare McDuff amcduff at math.sunysb.edu
Wed May 14 14:02:59 EDT 2003


On Wed, 14 May 2003, Ven wrote:

> Anna informed us:
>
> <I have a complete yet compact OED that dates I
> think from 1987. I
> think the main dictionary is a two volume copy of
> the 1971 dictionary with
> a 1987 supplementary volume. I just had a look &
> Muggle is in the main
> dictionary, after Muggins, Muggish, and Muggite>
>
> What is the definition for Muggins? My Mum used
> this word whenever she felt put upon "I suppose
> Muggins is going to have to do that", "Yes,
> Muggins has ironed your school skirt (again)."
> I never connected it with Muggles before.

	It has several meanings, but I think the one your Mum was using
was the slang term "A fool, a simpleton, a 'juggins'. To talk muggins, to
say silly foolish things." Although they then add: Also a borough magnate,
a local leader"! I do love the OED. Two citations from Punch, 1881 "Well
them as talks Muggins like that to our gurls must be milks". 1884 "Must
ha' thought me a muggins, old man, to ask such a question of 'Arry.".

	And before you ask, a Juggins is "a simpleton, one easily 'taken
in' or imposed upon", term of uncertain origin, although they say that it
is possibly & I quote: "a fantastically perverted derivative of Mug
'greenhorn'". I really do love the OED, you know... earliest citation 1845
Disraeli "'Juggins has got his rent to pay and is afraid of the bums' said
Nixon 'and he has got two waistcoats'".

	I was reading some of the links people sent in the other day & I
think JK Rowling was quoted as saying she used Muggles for her slang term
for non magical folk because it could be taken as a more affectionate form
of "Mug". But considering that we have used the term Muggins to denote a
chump for more than a century, maybe that entered her thoughts too at some
unconcious level... Certainly she is Very Good With Names...

	Anna

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