from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In United States history, one of the equal-rights or radical section of the Democratic party about 1835; by extension, in disparagement, any member of that party.
  • n. A kind of self-lighting cigar: so called in New York in 1834.
  • n. A friction-match.


  • Here's full particulars of the patriotic locofoco movement yesterday, in which the whigs was so chawed up; and the last Alabama gouging case; and the interesting Arkansas dooel with Bowie knives; and all the Political, Commercial, and Fashionable News.

    Martin Chuzzlewit, by Charles Dickens

  • A Loco-foco is a Jeffersonian Democrat, who having realized political equality, passed through one phase of the revolution, now passes on to another, and attempts the realization of social equality, so that the actual condition of men in shall be in harmony with their acknowledged rights as citizens.

    Orestes Augustus Brownson, The Boston Quarterly Review


The name 'locofoco' was given in allusion to an incident which occurred at a tumultuous meeting of the Democratic party in Tammany Hall, New York, in 1835, when the radical faction, after their opponents had turned off the gas, relighted the room with candles by the aid of locofoco matches.