…and then there were two: Hillary and Donald. A week after Donald Trump accepted his party’s nomination for president, Hillary accepted hers, the first woman to be nominated by a major political party in US history. Running up to the big day in November, we’ll be hearing a lot of these two names. So, what … Continue reading Behind the name of the next US president: “Hillary” or “Donald”
This week, US President Donald Trump’s policy of separating families seeking asylum at the US-Mexico border, well, separated our hearts. We’ve seen the cruel ironies of etymology on this blog before. The word separate, alas, is no exception.
At the G7 summit in Canada this week, Donald Trump’s recent tariffs are sparking unprecedented trade disputes with some of the US’s closest allies. We considered the origins of tariff not long back on the blog (and embargo well before it). But how about the word trade itself? It takes a path into English you … Continue reading The etymological routes of “trade”
A so-called caravan has arrived at the US border after trekking thousands of miles across Mexico from Central America. Now numbering in the hundreds, the people, including many women and children, are seeking asylum in the US from violence back home. Caravan came to prominence earlier in April after Donald Trump tweeted an ominous reference … Continue reading The long, etymological trek of “caravan”
All eyes on John Bolton…’s mustache. The former US ambassador to the UN is now Donald Trump’s third National Security Advisor. Political observers are quick to comment on Bolton’s hawkish foreign policy—and quip on his bristly whiskers.
The big news of the day is that Donald Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—and all the headlines are describing his ouster or running some language of him being ousted. Where do this journalistic go-to term for “dismissal” come from?
The word tariff goes all the way back to Arabic. Economists, businesspersons, and politicians of all stripes are pushing back against Donald Trump’s plan to impose stiff, new aluminum and steel tariffs, or “taxes imposed on imported goods,” in an effort to lower the trade deficit. They are concerned the shortsighted policy will increase costs … Continue reading If it weren’t for trade, there’d be no “tariff”
Used in military and football slang, the phrase take a knee dates back to at least 1960. This past weekend, millions of viewers witnessed American football players, among other athletes and celebrities, “take a knee” during the playing of the US national anthem ahead of kickoff. The kneelers, among others who stayed in locker-rooms or … Continue reading “Taking a knee”: Simple phrase, powerful—and changing—meaning
The word condemn is surprisingly related to the Irish word for “poem.” White supremacists rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, leading to the death of three people, including Heather Heyer, a counter-protester driven down by an Ohio terrorist with neo-Nazi sympathies. It took President Trump a woeful two days to directly condemn this violence and … Continue reading Some etymological—and political—lessons of “condemn”
Donald Trump Jr. stepped in some, er, dirt this week when the New York Times revealed he knowingly met with a Russian lawyer who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton as part of the Kremlin’s effort to help Trump. Where does the word dirt come from, and when did it start referring to “compromising information”? As … Continue reading Digging up “dirt”