At a time when words matter, one dictionary has emerged to school us all: Merriam-Webster.
With eyes glued to press briefings and testimonies, people are turning to dictionaries to find out what politicians are really saying and the team behind Merriam-Webster’s Twitter account have seized every opportunity to sink its teeth into the national dialogue with tweets that spread by the thousands. Where a statement can puzzle, a dictionary can clarify.
Like Dictionary.com, the dictionary company makes these calls to engage with social media followers – and help out.
From President Donald Trump’s “bigly” to Hillary Clinton’s “deplorable,” here are 13 times Merriam-Webster has responded to political language on Twitter:
The online dictionary corrected the spelling of then-presidential contender Donald Trump’s tweets targeting Florida Senator Marco Rubio, which Trump later corrected.
Following Hillary Clinton’s fundraiser speech in which she said “half of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a basket of deplorables” characterized by discriminatory views, Merriam-Webster was there to clarify the adjective on many people’s lips.
Following speculation about whether Trump kept saying “big league” or “bigly,” Merriam-Webster declared them both “real words.” (Trump clarified that it’s officially “big league” during an interview with Raymond Arroyo of the Catholic Eternal Word Television.)
The dictionary made its views on the 2016 Election clear when it changed its Twitter banner to a certain foreboding German term.
In December, then-President-elect Trump appeared to delete and correct a tweet containing an unintentionally comical typo, but not before Merriam-Webster had fun with spell check duty.
After current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said that Trump’s inauguration was “historical,” Merriam-Webster was happy to call out the commonly misued word.
President Trump’s Counselor Kellyanne Conway’s phrasing really stirred up the lexicon pot with her explanation of Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s remarks on Inauguration crowd size, and predictably, Merriam-Webster got in on the conversation.
After Spicer insisted intelligence community members thanked Trump with a standing ovation at an early press briefing, Merriam-Webster got sassy with the best of them on Twitter.
They were on a roll. After the White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement omitted the mention of the 6 million Jews killed, Merriam-Webster clapped back.
After Press Secretary Sean Spicer declined to define the word “betrayal” at the request of New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush at a briefing, Merriam-Webster gleefully did.
It supplied the internet with feminism’s meaning after Conway criticized the word feminist’s association with being “anti-male” and “pro-abortion” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
(It’s worth knowing that dictionaries are constantly undergoing revisions to stay fresh, and there are humans behind them — so spin is potentially unavoidable. )
When Trump fired off a tweet with a typo arguing for an investigation of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the dictionary couldn’t resist this thoughtful reminder.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defined the buzzy word “compilict” after Ivanka Trump said she didn’t know what it meant in an interview with CBS News’ Gayle King.
The dictionary had more fun when Trump mixed up homonyms in a tweet about ousted Attorney General Sally Yates, who gave a testimony before the Senate about warning the White House that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “compromised.”
After Trump said he “came up” with the expression “priming the pump” – to communicate stimulus – Merriam-Webster sprang to action with the genesis of the expression, which started 13 years before he was born, according to the company.
During a commencement speech at the Coast Guard Academy, POTUS said, “no politician in history — and I say this with great surety —has been treated worse, or more unfairly.” Merriam Webster quickly tweeted a link to the definition, citing a spike in lookups.
And it appeared the President didn’t take the note on counsel, so when he tweeted another typo soon after – “councel” – Merriam Webster being Merriam Webster would not let him live this one down.
After President Trump said in a statement released by the White House, that an investigation would find “there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity,” Merriam Webster went all troll on him again.
The lingo experts were also quick to report that look ups for the word “suborn” meaning, “to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing” were up more than 28,000% after former Director of the CIA John Brennan’s testimony about contacts between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
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