#Idiom: Stick-in-the-Mud/Fuddy-Duddy/Old Fogey

My blog post last week was about a difficult subject, the American Civil War. I decided to write about a less serious topic today.

I was driving to one of my favorite places (the public library) recently, when the expression “stick-in-the-mud” flew into my head out of nowhere. I don’t have a clue what brought that on unless it was all the rain we’d had that week and our yard had turned into a sea of mud. Who knows how the human brain works?

When I got home, I thought: blog post! My research led me to idioms meaning essentially the same thing as stick-in-the-mud. Those others are “fuddy-duddy” and “old fogey.”

Photo credit: Annie Spratt on unsplash.com

When were they first used?

One source says “stick-in-the-mud” was used as early as 1700, while Merriam-Webster attributes

it’s advent to 1832. English Through the Ages, by William Brohaugh says 1735.

Merriam-Webster says “fuddy-duddy” originated in 1904, while William Brohaugh’s book says

it came into general usage in 1905.

Merriam-Webster says “fogey” dates back to 1780. William Brohaugh agrees.

What does it mean?

All three of these idioms are colorful ways to insult someone for being old-fashioned, stuck in their ways, slow to accept change, etc.

Some examples of how the idiom is used

Don’t be such a stick-in-the-mud!

Don’t be a fuddy-duddy!

Get with the program. You’re being a stick-in-the-mud.

As language loses its color

Photo credit: Joseph J. Cotten on unsplash.com

I’m sad to report that “fuddy-duddy,” “fogey,” and “old fogey” did not make the cut when The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, by Christine Ammer was published in 1997. I guess that means I’m a fuddy-duddy and an old fogey for even including those expressions in today’s blog.

It’s idioms like “stick in the mud” that make the English language interesting. A synonym for it is “antediluvian,” but I much prefer “stick-in-the-mud.” Don’t you?

A question for multilinguals

For those of you who are fluent in languages other than English, do you know of a colorful idiom for antediluvian in another language?

A question for my friends and relatives

Are people calling me a stick-in-the-mud, a fuddy-duddy, or an old fogey behind my back? I hope not!

Since my last blog post

The spring weather has been beautiful! Our yard is ablaze with azalea blossoms and irises. I enjoyed doing a little yardwork, and I have stiff joints now to prove it. I also have poison oak on my face and arm to prove it, although I thought I was being careful to avoid it.

Until my next blog post

If you’re new to my blog, you might like to read my earlier posts about idioms: #Idioms: Reading the Riot Act on January 25, 2021, and #Idioms: As All Get Out on March 29, 2021.

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m listening to The Lost Girls of Paris, by Pam Jenoff, and I’m reading The Good Sister, by Sally Hepworth.

I hope you have time for a hobby this week.

I hope the Covid-19 pandemic is getting under control where you live.


29 thoughts on “#Idiom: Stick-in-the-Mud/Fuddy-Duddy/Old Fogey

  1. I always love reading about words, their origins, and the colorful phrases that bring languages to life. Thanks for sharing what you learned about these phrases, all of which I’ve heard and used many times. In fact, my first published short story — sold to a woman’s magazine many years ago — was titled “Stick in the Mud”. They changed the title LOL. Oh, well.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jennifer. I hadn’t had poison oak in years. Long enough ago that I’d forgotten how the itching can drive you up the wall! Saw the doctor this morning. Got prescriptions for prednisone for 12 days and a cortisone cream. The cream is holding the itching at bay better than the Benedryl Gel I bought on Saturday. I grew up out here in the country and didn’t become allergic to poison oak until I was around 20 years old. Now it gets me if I just look at it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting post, Janet. I am use to saying “old fogey” and not the others. At first when I saw the title I thought about an actual stick in the mud. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I couldn’t find very good photos to illustrate the idea this time. I wondered how the title would sound to someone not used to hearing the saying. Thanks for your comment, Beverley.


  5. The first time I reacted to it, I went to a dermatologist. She said some people never react to it. She also said once you react to it, you will react every time you come in contact with it. I wore work gloves and long sleeves because I knew I was allergic to it. I must have gotten it on my gloves and then touched my face. I’m doing a little better. Started Prednisone this morning and a prescription cortisone cream that’s relieving the itching better than Benedryl Gel or anything else I’ve tried. I hope you are never bothered by it. My brother has never reacted to it, and my father never did — and he grew up on a farm and lived out in the country most of his life. I hope you never have a reaction. The itching is miserable!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Both my parents react and my brother, too, so I’m an anomaly, but then, I had a skin reaction to the Covid vaccine (still have a swollen itchy knot two weeks later). Thank you, and I’m so grateful you are feeling better and hope you can get even more relief each day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks you, Jennifer. I’m sorry to learn that you’ve had a reaction to the Covid vaccine! I hope those itchy knots resolve soon!


  8. Oh my we said all of those all the time when I was a kid. Now we just say old! Lol I am so sorry you have poison oak and on all places, your face! I hope it clears up soon as it is miserable to have. Take care Janet!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Glad I brought back some old sayings memories for you, Diane. Thank you for your good wishes for my poison oak. I’d forgotten how intense the itching could be. Thank goodness for prednisone! The itching is down to a dull roar now on day 4 of 12 days of prednisone. Good luck with your meal preparations sans cooktop for another week and a half or is it two weeks? Yikes!


  10. I’m glad to know that you still hear them where you grew up. Maybe I just need to get out more. It might be they’re being said around here, too. I just haven’t been around people enough in the last 15 months to know what’s going on. LOL! Thanks for adding to the conversation, Paul.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It is always interesting and informative to read your posts Janet. These three I had never heard but they make sense when attached to their meaning. There are so many words, expressions and idioms, in all languages, that had their day and then just simply disappear into the void of lost words, wherever that is…
    Enjoy the spring weather in NC! Here we are still sort of transitioning, we’ve had a lot of rain and cold days but the sun is still trying to shine over our Mediterranean shore and I am hoping warmer weather finally makes its debut! All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you, Francisco. Your posts are always interesting and informative, too. We’re still transitioning from winter to spring. The just-below-freezing temps Thursday and Friday mornings set records for those particular dates here, but 80s are predicted for the middle of the upcoming week. I’ll be glad when I can put away the winter clothes! Take care. Janet

    Liked by 2 people

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