07 April 2014

There's another meaning for "muggles"

"Muggles" is the title of a recording by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra, recorded in Chicago on December 7, 1928.

The title refers to the use of the word "muggles" as a slang term for marijuana amongst jazz musicians of the 1920s and 1930s. Armstrong was an enthusiastic user of marijuana, which was legal in most American states at the time.
J. K. Rowling has indicated that she was unaware of this prior use of the term:
I was looking for a word that suggested both foolishness and loveability. The word 'mug' came to mind, for somebody gullible, and then I softened it. I think 'muggle' sounds quite cuddly. I didn't know that the word 'muggle' had been used as drug slang at that point... ah well.


  1. We named our long-haired black cat "Muggle" since he is a non-magical creature (from Harry Potter). We also have cats named Hagrid and Padfoot. Here in the South few people have read Harry Potter, so we get a lot of curious looks when we take the cats to the vet.

  2. Harry Potter, now I get it.

  3. If I recall correctly, "muggle" is actually in the OED...by which I do mean a rather old book version, the kind that comes with a magnifying glass. Looking it up afresh online ( http://www.oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q=muggle&_searchBtn=Search ) it means "tail like that of a fish", as well as "young woman".

    1. I had not thought to try looking it up in my OED, but I got out my magnifying glass, and you are quite correct. In the compact edition it also offers "muggle" as a "tailed man" (origin obscure).


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