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One’s name is mud

  • The idiom one’s name is mud became popular during the 1900s. The most well-known origin story of the term one’s name is mud is inaccurate, though the exact source of the term is in question. We will examine the meaning of the idiom one’s name is mud, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

    One’s name is mud means that one is unpopular or perhaps in disgrace or embroiled in scandal. Most people believe that the term one’s name is mud comes from the assassination of the American president Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth. After shooting the president at a play at Ford’s Theater, Booth jumped from the box seats onto the stage, breaking his leg. Later, Doctor Samuel Mudd rendered medical aid to Booth and was accused in the crime as a co-conspirator. Many believe Mudd was innocent. In any case, this story is not the true origin of the term one’s name is mud, as the phrase dates back at least to a British book, A Dictionary of the Turf, written by John Badcock in 1823: “Mud – a stupid twaddling fellow. ‘And his name is mud!’” Use of the word mud in a similar context may be traced back even further, to the early 1700s when it was used to mean a fool or someone who has done something stupid.

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    Examples

    Before you can say Bernie Madoff, her name is mud too, and both women find themselves cut adrift from a world they once owned. (The Guardian)

    The company has variously admitted to having “underinvested in the driver experience” and being “in a reputational deficit” in the hope that no one will notice it has screwed its drivers and its name is mud. (The Irish Times)

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