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?