19th-century American English. Possibly from snallygaster, a mythical beast that preys on poultry and children; possibly from Pennsylvania German schnelle geeschter, from German schnell (“quick”) + Geist (“spirit”).
Largely obsolete, it briefly resurfaced 2009 in Britain as part of a debate over MPs' expenses.
snollygoster (plural snollygosters)
- (slang, obsolete) A shrewd person not guided by principles, especially a politician.
- 2009 May 19, “Tory issues apology after calling Labour rival a "c***"”, in Mirror, retrieved 2014-02-06:
- … I called for him to publish his expenses so that all Gloucester voters could see that he isn't a snollygoster…