Word + Quiz: factotum

Word + Quiz: factotum

: a servant employed to do a variety of jobs


The word factotum has appeared in five articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on Feb. 5 in the obituary “James R. McManus, 84, Last of the Hell’s Kitchen Bosses, Dies” by Sam Roberts:

James R. McManus, the last of the long-reigning leaders of a Tammany Hall Democratic dynasty that presided over Manhattan’s politically tempestuous West Side since 1892, died on Monday at his home in the heart of it, Hell’s Kitchen. He was 84.

… Unlike most fellow district leaders, Mr. McManus sustained a robust, full-service neighborhood clubhouse (and a funeral home) in the West 40s, just west of Eighth Avenue. (The phone there would also ring in his apartment six blocks away.) His factotums routinely delivered for constituents desperate for an apartment, employment, bail or help in preparing their taxes or vacating a summons, or perhaps concerned about crime encroaching from Times Square.