also locofoco, American English, said to date from 1834 in the sense "self-igniting cigar or friction match," of obscure origin. The first element is apparently a misapprehension of the loco- in locomotive ("a word just then becoming familiar" [Century Dictionary]) as "self-, self-moving-." The second element is perhaps a jingling reduplication of this, or somehow from Spanish fuego "fire."
Better remembered, if at all, as a political term: During a heated Democratic party meeting in Tammany Hall c. 1835, the opposition doused the gaslights to break it up, and the radical delegates used loco-foco matches to relight them. When it was publicized, the name loco-foco entered U.S. political jargon (by 1837) and down to the Civil War was applied, usually disparagingly, to a radical faction of the Democratic Party (but by the Whigs to all Democrats).
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