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Sockdolager, A Knockout Punch

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Micah in Council Bluffs, Iowa, reports reading an account of a fistfight between 19th-century newspaper editors in which one was hit with a sockdolager, meaning “a knockout punch” or a “heavy, decisive blow,” and wonders if that’s the source of sock, meaning to “strike hard.” Actually, sockdolager is probably an elaboration of sock. In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Bookshop|Amazon), Mark Twain uses sockdolager to denote a clap of thunder. The word sockdolagizing is one of the last words heard by Abraham Lincoln, because it’s part of the play Our American Cousin by Tom Taylor (Bookshop|Amazon), which he was watching when he was assassinated. This is part of a complete episode.

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