The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #103674   Message #2114853
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
30-Jul-07 - 12:40 PM
Thread Name: Folklore: the wampus cat
Subject: RE: Folklore: the wampus cat
catawamp(o)us has acquired several meanings through time.
- vigorously, completely-
1834- the gineral was catawampously inclin'd tu the United States' servive (DARE)

catawampus- a peculiar or remarkable thing or person.
1833- On the way I took a squint at my wild lands along by the Big Muddy and Little Muddy to Bear Grass Creek where I had what I call a rael, roundabout catawampus, clean through the destrict. Paulding, in "Lion of the West."

catawampus- ferocious or impressive
1843- There air some catawampous chawers in the small way too. Charles Dickens in "Chuzzlewit."
1847- On the back of a catawampous grate wolf. "Davy Crockett's Alm." (unp.).

catawampus- to confuse, confound, injure or damage.
1839- A catawampussed fix. "Dictionary of Americanisms," Matthews.
1880- May I be catawampussed. ibid.

Catawampus- diagonally. 1906
catawampus- drawn out of shape.
1851- They sed that he and his wife and children had their faces so wrinkled up and turned cater-wampus like, that the skeeters couldn't lite on um long enuf to bite. "Spirit of Times."

And many variations on these. See Lighter's "Historical Dictionary of American Slang, vol. 1. Perhaps an alteration of catamount (Oxford English Dictionary).

wampus cat- a catamount (panther) or mythical creature, or undisciplined person.
Couldn't find any old quotations; prob. a contraction of catawampus.