Words: galoot, n.

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The Independent Culture
THE New Yorker recently gave a brief notice to Robert Clark's new novel, Mr White's Confession, which is set amid the murders and shanty towns of St Paul in the Thirties and derives its power from the ruminations about the nature of good and evil by a Mr White, "a huge galoot". According to the OED, this goes back to 1812, to mean a soldier, or by mid-century awkward soldier.

Meanwhile, in America, it had meant anybody of an uncouth or awkward nature, but was intended amiably, joshingly enough. And, needless to say, it was something to which Mark Twain had recourse. The OED cannot supply an origin for the word, but J. E. Lighter's Random House volume of American Slang posits a Krio connection in galut, hefty.

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