What is a “Boodler”?

One of the fun things about setting a story in the past is being able to use language from the time.

“All Alone,” my contribution to Shotgun Honey’s RELOADED anthology, is set in 1951. The main character, Oscar Cain, is described at one point as “a bagman working for a boodler in a city run by thieves.” I really enjoyed being able to use two old-style political terms in that sentence.

“Bagman,” a term still in use today, is defined in Grant Barrett’s wonderful Hatchet Jobs and Hardball: The Oxford Dictionary of American Political Slang, as “one who collects money obtained by racketeering and other dishonest means.” It was used as early as 1904, according to Barrett’s book.

“Boodler,” which as best I can tell has fallen out of use, is defined as “a person, esp. a politician, who seeks or accepts bribes.” It was used at least from 1885 through 1957, with a few later references also included in Barrett’s book.


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