It was a sockdolager all right

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Rock Toews:
It is often noted with irony that Booth chose the biggest laugh line in Our American Cousin to cover his fatal shot. It was a practical choice, but I'd never picked up on the real irony in the line itself:
 
Sockdolager: n. A conclusive blow or remark. (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition).



Rock Toews:
From the context in the play, when Harry Hawk as Asa Trenchard calls Mrs. Mountchessington a  "...sockdologizing old man-trap," I had assumed that a sockdologizer was a conniving or manipulative person. Mark Twain gives two other contemporary uses when he describes a thunder clap as a sockdolager (variant spelling) in Huckleberry Finn and the Milky Way as a sockdologer in Tom Sawyer Abroad.


yagerdog:

Booth may have intended the moment but being the meglomaniac he was, would he have not made a direct mention of it in his so called "diary"?
What little I think I know of his character, is that he would been too proud of such a intellectual slap in the face to not have cemented thie timing of the shot for posterity.  His timing aided his escape and the dramatics of leaping to the stage.

Rock Toews:
Yagerdog...I think Booth's choice of timing was strictly practical to cover the Derringer report. The "sockdolager" was a private bonus for Booth but not something he would brag to posterity about. The play, after all, was a farce--albeit very popular at the time.

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