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World Wide Words defines a snollygoster as ‘a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician.’ 

Snollygoster has not been heard much for the last sixty years.

President Truman used it in 1952, and defined it, either in ignorance or impishness, as “a man born out of wedlock”.

Many people put him right, some quoting this definition from the Columbus Dispatch of October 1895, with its splendid last phrase in the spirit of the original: “A Georgia editor kindly explains that ‘a snollygoster is a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnacy’.

Remind you of anyone? It’s been used of Arlen Specter (well, by me, anyway), but I was thinking of someone else.

It’s no surprise that snollygoster is making a come-back.

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