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Unknown, 1827 US,[1] presumably fanciful variant of sock (to hit); compare contemporary fanciful American coinages.[1][2][3]

Various speculative etymologies have been suggested,[3] such as corruption of doxology, due to this occurring at the end of church worship, hence “finality”.[2][4]



sockdolager (plural sockdolagers)

  1. (US, slang, dated) A hard hit, a knockout or finishing blow, or conclusive argument.
    • 1831, James Kirke Paulding, Lion of the West:
      He’ll come off as badly as a feller I once hit a sledge hammer lick over the head—a real sogdolloger.
    • 1838, James Fenimore Cooper, Home as Found:
      There is but one ‘sogdollager’ in the universe, and that is in Lake Oswego.
    • 1859, Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms:
      "I gave the fellow a socdolager over his head with the barrel of my gun,"
    • 1884 December 10, Mark Twain [pseudonym; Samuel Langhorne Clemens], chapter 20, in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade) [], London: Chatto & Windus, [], →OCLC:
      The thunder would go rumbling and grumbling away, and quit—and then rip comes another flash and another sockdologer.
    • 1918, Norman Lindsay, The Magic Pudding, page 68:
      “If punching parrots on the beak wasn't too painful for pleasure, I'd land you a sockdolager on the muzzle that ud lay you out till Christmas.”
  2. (US, slang, dated) Something large or otherwise exceptional; a whopper.
    • 1953, Ray Bradbury, The Murderer::
      Hey, Al, thought I'd call you from the locker room out here at Green Hills. Just made a sockdolager hole in one! A hole in one, Al! (etc.)
  3. (US, fishing) A combination of two hooks which close upon each other, by means of a spring, as soon as the fish bites.

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  1. 1.0 1.1 America in So Many Words: Words That Have Shaped America, by David K. Barnhart, Allan A. Metcalf, “1827 sockdolager”, p. 127
  2. 2.0 2.1 Michael Quinion (created October 17, 1998, last updated April 20, 2006), “Sockdolager”, in World Wide Words.
  3. 3.0 3.1 14 American English Abroad, Richard W. Bailey, 14.1 Introduction, pp. 456–458, in The Cambridge History of the English Language, Volume 6, 1992
  4. ^ Dictionary of Americanisms (1848), by John Russell Bartlett