mush pot n
1 In var games: The middle of a play area where players are targets (as in cornerball n) or are sent as a penalty (as in drop the handkerchief, duck duck goose n, and similar games). orig cAtl, now more widespread Cf mush n4
1878 Aegis & Intelligencer (Bel Air MD) 12 July 1/4, We never could see why those huge flying rocks which Homer speaks of, could not have been “dodged” by merely exercising the skill which our average school-boy displays every day in the “mush-pot” of “corner-ball.” 1889 Daily Republican (Wilmington DE) 14 Mar 1/4, He liked to play corner ball at school and it gave him great delight to throw the ball across the “mushpot” and hit a boy who wo[r]e buckskin breeches, to hear the ball crack. [DARE Ed: Recollections of a man born 1797 in Chester Co. PA.] 1895 Lloyd Old Red School-House 113 sePA, Just before dinner, all got together and played “Drop the handkerchief,” until half of them were “in the mush-pot.” 1916 Wolford Play-Party IN 59 seIN, As soon as the person behind whom the handkerchief has been dropped, discovers it, he picks it up and runs around the circle in pursuit of the one who dropped it. If he succeeds in catching him, the dropper must stand in the center of the ring “the mush pot.” 1922 Morning World–Herald (Omaha NE) 21 Jan 12/5, Their teacher has been there three years and has done most of her teaching by cards. Every lesson is a game and the loser is the dummy or “is in the mushpot.” 1933 Macon Telegraph (GA) 11 July 8/1, If she catches her, the sheep must go in “the mush-pot” (the center) where she stays until some one describes her again and lets her out. 1941 Labor’s Voice (Oklahoma City OK) 23 Sept 3/1, Mr. J. H. Shofner, was apparently enjoying himself until he found himself in the embarassing [sic] mush-pot in the drop the handkerchief game. 1972 Fairbanks Daily News–Miner (AK) 22 May 7/3, They sat down and she introduced the game “Duck—Great Duck.” . . As the children got caught, they went in the “mushpot”—in the middle of the ring. 2014 in 2023 DARE File—Internet, We always played [duck duck goose] with the mush pot variation. In this variation, the middle of the circle is called the mush pot. Say Mary is running around the outside of the circle, trying not to be tagged by Jane. If Jane does tag Mary, then Mary has to go sit in the mush pot.
2 Any of various games that involve such an area.
1896 Somerset Herald (PA) 27 May 1/8 (as of c1850), In the way of ball-playing we had three different kinds. The most enjoyable to the writer was “Corner” or [“]Sock-ball,” called sometimes “mush-pot.” 1901 Stark Co. Democrat (Canton OH) 11 Oct 3/1, When, in the game of mush-pot, McKinley got the most sticks in his cap, and had to stand up against the school house while us boys threw a ball at him, he bore it without flinching. 1904 Hebron Jrl. (NE) 23 Dec /6, They played one game they called “mush-pot” and M. G. Corliss got in the pot. 1911 New Castle News (PA) 23 Aug 6/6, John L. Leslie of the Seventh ward umpired the ball game. He did remarkably well for one who always played town-ball and mush-pot, and never witnessed the national game. 1979 Sun (Baltimore MD) 8 Apr Arundel Living sec 2/6, Elizabeth Hopkins Crisp . . remembers that the pupils had spelling bees, played marbles and a game called “mushpot.”