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I see an event is being organised in Washington, DC, called the Million Muppet March. In British English (at least) a muppet has no very positive a connotation:-

muppet (ˈmʌpɪt) — n slang a stupid person

Is that also the case in American slang?

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Muppets are Jim Henson's puppets. The word is strongly associated with Sesame Street characters. –  KitFox Oct 15 '12 at 12:30
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Even in the UK we know what Muppets are. In the US, is the word "muppet" (no capital) used as a [normally] friendly way to refer to stupid people? –  Andrew Leach Oct 15 '12 at 12:52
    
"Is that also the case in American slang?" This is a General Reference question. You can check any contemporary dictionary for the right answer. –  Kris Oct 15 '12 at 12:56
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I guess the answer is actually No, because I can't find a pertinent reference in an American online dictionary. Which may be why the question was asked. What is the right answer and where is the General Reference to be found? –  Andrew Leach Oct 15 '12 at 13:00
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As a Brit, I would say that the dictionary is wrong. 'Muppet' is something you say when taking the p*ss out of a friend who has just done something stupid but hilarious. It is not an insult. –  Roaring Fish Oct 15 '12 at 13:22
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4 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

In American English, 'muppet', capitalized or not, has no meaning other than being characterized by the Jim Henson branded characters. The idea of it being a 'stupid person' is unknown. Some of the Muppet characters are slow, others are bright, others have other personality traits.

To call someone in the US a muppet would only make one wonder, 'Which one? Miss Piggy? Fozzy? Beaker?'

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The song "Man or Muppet" implies being a Muppet is akin to being immature or not "grown-up", though a Muppet unquestionably refers to the Jim Henson creation. There are no additional connotations in American English (outside of the recent film) that I'm aware of. Aside from Muppet aficionados, it's unlikely one would refer to an immature person as a Muppet. –  Zairja Oct 15 '12 at 16:24
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They are genuinely going to march with Muppets (capitalised and trademarked) to protest the cutting of funding for PBS (who hosts Sesame Street)

WSBT

A grassroots protest to save PBS funding, dubbed the Million Muppet March, is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3 -- three days before the presidential election -- at the National Mall.
Mitt Romney's threats during the first presidential debate to cut federal subsidies for PBS galvanized support for the "Sesame Street" network -- including Michael Bellavia and Chris Mecham.

Muppet (n.)

Trademark (U.S.) Sept. 26, 1972, claiming use from 1971, but in print from Sept. 1970. Name coined by creator Jim Henson (1936-1990), who said, despite the resemblance to marionette and puppet (they have qualities of both), it has no etymology; he just liked the sound.

As for the question about the slang, I would think calling someone a muppet will be negative in any language, denoting a person with someone else's hand up inside making them do their bidding

muppet - Urban Dictionary:

A person who is ignorant and generally has no idea about anything.

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This doesn't actually answer the question about the uncapitalised word muppet, which has the UK slang meaning Brian Hooper mentioned. –  Andrew Leach Oct 15 '12 at 12:49
    
Definition of muppet is GR. The post can get closed. –  Kris Oct 15 '12 at 12:57
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Reuters reports:
'Million Muppet March' Planned To Defend PBS After Romney Big Bird Comments

Plans to save Big Bird, the fuzzy yellow character on U.S. public television's "Sesame Street," from possible extinction are taking shape in the form of a puppet-based protest next month dubbed the "Million Muppet March."

The context explains the use of the term Muppet here.

All about The Muppets & Sesame Street

The term Muppet was invented by Jim Henson at the beginning of his career to describe his puppet act. It is sometimes claimed, and refuted, that Henson created the term as a combination of the words marionette and puppet. Henson used the Muppet name to define the characters in his productions, and to distinguish his act from those of other puppeteers.

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Again, this doesn't answer the question. –  Andrew Leach Oct 15 '12 at 12:53
    
@AndrewLeach What according to you is the question, please? OP's question is properly and adequately covered here. Get some clarifications from OP, or tell us your doubts. –  Kris Oct 15 '12 at 12:55
    
I would say this answer is a duplicate of mine with different links. –  mplungjan Oct 15 '12 at 12:57
    
@mplungjan and different pieces of information, different purpose. :) Incidentally, we were both working on the answers at the same time. –  Kris Oct 15 '12 at 12:58
    
@AndrewLeach The question specifically referenced the "Million Muppet March". Follow the link in the question and it takes you to a page which is clearly referring to the Sesame Street characters, and not to the UK slang term. According to Collins English Dictionary, that slang term derives from the Sesame Street character. Oh, click on the link for the definition in the OP and it references Collins, and quotes it as saying that it comes from the SS character. –  Jay Oct 15 '12 at 13:54
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Do you mean actually muppet here, or do you mean moppet? I wonder whether this mightn’t be a spelling variant on the existing moppet, which per the OED means:

  1. a. Used as an endearing appellation for a baby, a girl, etc.; a darling, a favourite.
    Also used contemptuously (? after sense 2) for a gaily dressed or frivolous woman.
    b. Contemptuously applied to a man.
  2. A rag doll. Obs. rare–0
  3. A woolly variety of dog. (Cf. mops2.)

The only times I’ve ever heard moppet used, it has been in the original endearing sense, not the derogatory one, and I believe that this positive sentiment may have carried over to the Jim Henson–derived muppet as well.

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