By Ashley Hoffman
June 13, 2017

Senate hearings are widely viewed events where words matter, and of everything Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated during his appearance before former colleagues, a few words stand out. One of those words is “scurrilous.”

As soon as Sessions used the word under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon, Merriam-Webster reported that lookups for the word spiked. The word popped up when Sessions vehemently denied that he had any improper meetings or collusion with Russian officials in sworn testimony when he called the charges a “detestable lie,” crucially adding that he vowed to defend his honor “against scurrilous and false allegations.”

Merriam-Webster was on the case, tweeting out that the pointed adjective can mean “using or given to coarse language” or “containing obscenities, abuse, or slander,” or it may be used to indicate a thing that is “vulgar and evil.”

“Scurrilous” has been in the lexicon mix since the 16th century, the company added.

Merriam-Webster has carved out a distinct niche on Twitter, where it commands 526,000 followers — often for its swift political commentary schooling us all.

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