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October 23, 2020

Word of the day : guttersnipe


Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for October 23, 2020 is:

guttersnipe • \GUTT-er-snype\  • noun

1 : a young vagabond : an outcast boy or girl in the streets of a city

2 : a person of the lowest moral or economic station

Examples:

"He had blackmailed another ten dollars out of the urchin, also forcing the waif to watch the wagon while he spent the afternoon at Leow's State watching a film about drag-racing teenagers. The guttersnipe was definitely a discovery…."— John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces, 1980

"Uneducated flower girl Eliza Doolittle, on the other hand, transforms from what Higgins calls a 'guttersnipe' into a proper lady." — Rohan Preston, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minnesota), 5 Mar. 2020

Did you know?

"Unfurl yourselves under my banner, noble savages, illustrious guttersnipes," wrote Mark Twain sometime around 1869. Twain was among the first writers to use guttersnipe for a young hoodlum or street urchin. In doing so, he was following a trend among writers of the time to associate gutter (a low area at the side of a road) with a low station in life. Other writers in the late 19th century used guttersnipe more literally as a name for certain kinds of snipes, or birds with long thin beaks that live in wet areas. Gutter-bird was another term that was used for both birds and disreputable persons. And even snipe itself has a history as a term of opprobrium; it was used as such during William Shakespeare's day.