I stum­bled across [a pas­sage from *Moby-Dick*]([canonical-url:node/1564]) which tick­led my fan­cy today. In there was a word I can gen­er­al­ly dis­cern from con­text, but of which I was unfa­mil­iar. *Foot­man­ism* itself isn’t found in my Short­er Oxford or Cham­bers Dic­tio­nar­ies, but *foot­man* refers gen­er­al­ly to one who goes on foot but more specif­i­cal­ly to one whose occu­pa­tion it is to run next to a coach or horse in order to attend to the needs of the pas­sen­ger or rid­er. Such a per­son­’s job would be to open the door or help the employ­er down from the horse. SOED lists *foot­man­ship* as «the occu­pa­tion or office of a foot­man» and is list­ed as now rare or obsolete.

*Foot­man­ism* there­fore would seem not to refer to the duties of the office of a foot­man, but rather to the aspect of sub­servience in that role.

As an aside, how is it that a word which appears in as promi­nent a work as Moby-Dick did­n’t make it into the Oxford Eng­lish Dictionary?