Definition of loco-foco in English:


Pronunciation /ˌləʊkəʊˈfəʊkəʊ/


historical US
  • 1A cigar (more fully "loco-foco cigar") or match (more fully "loco-foco match") tipped with an inflammable substance ignitable on a roughened or specially prepared surface.

  • 2Politics
    Also with capital initial. A member or supporter of a radical faction within the Democratic Party in the mid 1830s which advocated social justice and opposed vested interests, monopolies, and banks; (also) a member of the Democratic Party as a whole; (hence) an advocate of similar radical principles.


historical US Politics
  • Of, relating to, or characteristic of the Loco-focos.


Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Salem (Massachusetts) Gazette. Origin uncertain. Apparently a rhyming compound, in which the first element apparently ultimately reflects classical Latin locus, and the second element classical Latin focus; if so, it is unclear whether the intended meaning is approximately ‘fire in place’ or ‘in place of fire’ (i.e. fire does not need to be introduced from elsewhere), or whether the word arises from a misapprehension of locomotive as literally meaning ‘self-moving’, hence this word might have been envisaged as very approximately ‘self-igniting’.