Part of speech: noun
Origin: English, 18th century
A person who scavenges in river mud for objects of value.
(Historical) A street urchin.
Examples of Mudlark in a sentence
"Wendall wanted to be a modern mudlark."
"Milton found many accounts of mudlark life in The London Library."
Popularity Over Time
The first published use of the word was in 1785 as a slang term meaning “a hog.” Its origin may have been a humorous variation on “skylark.” By 1796, the word was also being used to describe “Men and boys ... who prowl about, and watch under the ships when the tide will permit.”
Did you Know?
Mudlarks made a living in London in the 18th and 19th centuries by scouring the muddy shores of the River Thames for anything and everything that could be sold to eke out a living. This could include pilfering from river traffic. Modern mudlarks have sometimes recovered objects of archaeological value from the river’s shores. These are either recorded as treasure under the Treasure Act of 1996 or submitted for analysis and review under the Portable Antiquities Scheme.