Many people have wondered how the small town (pop. 137) of Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) in Mississippi got its name. The road signs for Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) were a constant source of amusement for out-of-towners and frequently stolen by pranksters until the town ordered them replaced with painted boulders to deter theft in the manner of Shitterton, Dorsetshire.

It has been suggestion, by analogy with the town of Bad Fücking in Saxony, that the name Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) is simply another language that seems scatalogical to English speakers. After all, Bad Fücking simply means “the baths of Fuecke’s people” after a long-dead merchant named Johannes Fuecke.

However, none of the theories about the origin of the name Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) have thus far held up to scrutiny. The oft-repeated tale that it has its roots in a Cajun place name, Beau d’Holey, neglects the fact that “Holey” is not a known word or place name in French. Another theory, that the town was named after a hole in a local butte, is belied by its location in board-flat Mississippi floodplain country. And despite the suggestion in a Saturday Night Live skit from 1987 that brought the town a burst of worldwide notice, there never was a “Cyrus Q. Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”), Esquire.”

Even the notion that the name was adopted with full knowledge of its actual meaning is troublesome, as the scatological term is unknown before 1859 (and then only in the West) while Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) was founded in 1822. No source reflecting on the humor of the name can be found in any contemporary accounts, even from the Union troops who occupied the area in 1863 and who would have had good reason for a laugh at their adversaries’ expense.

In the midst of all of this, the town of Butthole (pronounced “beaut-hoe-lay”) is laughing all the way to the bank. Despite being overwhelmingly rural, conservative, and Republican, the town nevertheless makes a healthy profit selling t-shirts and souvenirs in person and online.

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