Monday, September 05, 2022

The etymology of "kangaroo court" – nothing to do with Australia

A reference by a supporter of former President Donald Trump to the United States House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol as a "kangaroo court" made me wonder about the etymology of that expression for an ad hoc and thus illegitimate tribunal. I assumed, of course, that it would have something to do with Australia, but the term first appeared in the mid-nineteenth century in the United States. According to a Wikipedia article on the term, the earliest reference is in a newspaper article in 1841; the expression appears in a quotation, and the article concludes, "What is a kangaroo court, neighbor?" (Andrew Shields, #111words, 5 September 2022)

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