The Sunpapers' own H. L. Mencken mentioned it in his treatise on the mother tongue, "The American Language." In his initial volume, he wrote that "bhoy . . . entered our political slang in the middle [1840s]" as a derivative of Irish -- that is, Gaelic -- pronunciation.
In the first supplement to the book, he revised that to say, "In the days of heavy Irish immigration, the ward heelers of the Eastern cities were often called b'hoys."
The still-incomplete "Dictionary of American Regional English," being developed by Harvard University Press, states that "b'hoy" comes from the Irish pronunciation of "boy" and means "a rowdy young man."
The second definition, however, is "a political henchman," and The Sun of Baltimore is credited for the two supporting references.
The first citation noted is a 1938 political cartoon by Richard Q. "Moco" Yardley in which a sign reading "City Hall B'hoys" figures prominently.
Yardley, The Sun's long-time cartoonist, skewered local pols as beefy, cigar-chewing characters in derbies, hats that often were emblazoned with a fraction -- such as "One-sixth boss" -- identifying the wearers by the amount of power they were perceived to carry in the city at the time.
The dictionary's second reference is a 1953 news feature by Charles G. Whiteford, The Sun's late chief political reporter, on the confusion among the b'hoys over the early line on the next year's gubernatorial race.
The search for "muldoons" is not as easy, since you will not find the word, in this sense, in any dictionary. It is a word that has been passed on from generation to generation by word of mouth or, more and more rarely, in the newspaper.
These days, political reformers -- the good-government "goo-goos," as the late Boston boss and Mayor James Michael Curley would say -- like to pretend such muldoons and b'hoys are creatures of yesteryear.
And the word is only whispered by reporters who write about politics for this newspaper, for it has been virtually banned here by editors, who also assert that that species of political animal no longer exists.
The attitude is nothing new.
In the early 1970s, Charlie Whiteford, who is credited with keeping both words alive during his watch, complained bitterly to a then-fledgling legislative writer that the editors never let "colorful political terms in the paper any more."
It was true then and still is. Editors pasteurize, homogenize and sanitize copy, scouring it clean of detail and nuance.
And in doing so, they have elevated Maryland's b'hoys and muldoons to "statesman" status -- a frightening prospect.
These editors are the same crusaders who could not find their way to the State House without a compass and map.
Trying to explain the importance of keeping "muldoons" and "b'hoys" alive in the English language is like trying to explain to them how a bill really becomes law.
Just two summers ago, another attempt to keep the terms alive was thwarted when one of these editors refused to allow the word "muldoonery" to appear in an article about the shenanigans during the years of former Gov. Marvin Mandel.
"They're not words," that editor said. "Too inside-baseball; they're not 'accessible' by the general public."
It was more than any self-respecting political observer could stand.
After all, one of Mr. Mandel's own cronies had shouted, "The muldoons are back," on that fateful day in January 1979, when the governor returned to the State House for the last five days of his term, after a federal appeals court overturned bribery and racketeering convictions.
But what the aide meant was that Marvin's muldoons were back -- for the muldoons are never gone. They are as eternal as the Hill of Tara, just smoking fewer cigars and dressing better than before.
The word was clearly in use in the early part of the century and probably known to Mencken, whose good friend and fellow Sun writer and editor, Frank R. Kent, appears to be among the first newspapermen to trot it out in print.
Mr. Kent defined "muldoon" in the Feb. 25, 1923, Sun, in his long-running column, "The Great Game of Politics" as "the political description of a straight organization man who will 'vote right' and 'stay hitched.' "
The definition was part of a multipart series on how a political machine runs -- articles that later that year became a book of the same name as Mr. Kent's column, chock full of insight, much of it nearly as true now as it was then.
But almost as proof of political history's precarious position, The Sun's own library recently discarded that volume and a couple of other Kent books.
Forty years after Mr. Kent's definition, Mr. Whiteford offered readers of The Sun, "A Muldoon's-Eye View" of the then-forthcoming Baltimore mayoral and City Council races. By then, March 2, 1963, "muldoon" had acquired a party affiliation, with Mr. Whiteford defining it as "a down-the-line-for-the-party Democrat for whom politics is the way of life."