H.L. Mencken in The American Language, Supplement One, page 251
(Alfred Knopf, New York, 1945, 1977) says that galliwampus originated
in the American Northwest and is a fabulous creature among many of
In a footnote, he adds that the galliwampus was a creature favorite of
O. Henry, who defined it in "Heart of the West" as an animal with fins
on its back and eighteen toes.
The Project Gutenberg Etext of Heart of the West, by O Henry
"What is it, Mustang?" asked Poky Rodgers, almost forgetting to smoke
in his ecstasy. "What do it live on?"
"It's a galliwampus, Poky," said Mustang. "It's the thing that hollers
'willi-walloo' up in ellum trees in the low grounds of nights. I don't
know if it bites."
"No, it ain't, Mustang," volunteered Long Collins. "Them galliwampuses
has fins on their backs, and eighteen toes. This here is a
hicklesnifter. It lives under the ground and eats cherries. Don't
stand so close to it. It wipes out villages with one stroke of its
No search strategy, other than looking up the word in The American