Bringing the house down

The word “sockdolager” means “a decisive blow or remark” or even “something exceptional or outstanding”. Though not very popular these days, it used to be in vogue in the 19th century, appearing in popular culture. An example of usage from a play was: “Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap”, which apparently would bring the house down. This word has a curious place in American history. Why?

Answer: (select the text below to show)

This usage example is from the play “Our American Cousin”.  Abraham Lincoln was assassinated while watching this play. His assassin John Wilkes Booth, a former actor himself, knew the significance of the word and its effect on the audience, and fired at the time the line was spoken.

Question by J Ramanand