• high-muck-a-muck •
hai-mêk-ê-mêk • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: A derisive term referring to someone who is pompous and arrogant; a big wheel, a grand pooh-bah, a panjandrum.
Notes: This is a word we use to jeer someone who is too big for his britches. It is a playful word although it bears an insulting message. This word comes to us without a family, but we do have several variants: high-you-muck-a-muck, high-muckety-muck, and high-mucky-muck.
In Play: No doubt the high in today's Good Word was influenced by the phrase, "high and mighty", since this expression means about the same as today's word: "Portia Carr likes to hobnob with the high-muck-a-mucks at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach." Her husband, Parker, doesn't share her interests.
Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Chinook jargon: hayo "plenty" + mucka-muck "food". It came into English around 1850 as high-you-muck-a-muck, then transitioned into what it is today. The Chinook jargon was a pidgin used from Washington and Oregon up to Alaska to facilitate trade between peoples not speaking the same language. A pidgin is not a language but a simple list of words, all related to trade, that speakers of both languages know. When a pidgin develops a grammar of its own, it then becomes a creole. To be a creole, a pidgin must have a fully fledged grammar and become the native language of a community. In some areas Chinook took on these features. (David Stevens is no high-muck-a-muck, but he is much appreciated at alphaDictionary for his contribution of today's Good Word.)
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