One of those old westerns is keeping my brother entertained on this cold, dreary day. Listening in from another room, I heard a character referred to by the name of Dr. Samuel Mudd.
Got me to thinking about a saying that's been around a while...'your name is mud'. Ever wonder what this phrase is all about? I did and went looking for an explanation. Seems like 'your name is mud', was in general circulation long before Lincoln was assassinated.
The word began to be used in a figurative sense as early as the 16th century to refer to things that were worthless or polluting. That usage was later extended to apply to people, as listed in the 1703 account of London's low life, Hell upon Earth: Mud, a Fool, or thick skull Fellow.
The combination of meanings of 'decaying and worthless' and 'extremely' was enough for the association of it with someone's name to become an insult - hence 'your name is mud'.
So, that saying doesn't really have anything to do with the infamous Doctor Mudd. He just had the misfortune of being stuck with the name.