Thursday, August 18, 2016

Trumpery: A word for the ages

I know, I know. This blog is too full of Trump, Truthiness, and Trumpiness. And here I go, courtesy of Bob Mahoney in Wednesday's DCSRA discussion group, adding another post and another word to our modern Trumpist lexicon.

Here's the online definition from the Oxford Dictionary.

Definition of trumpery in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈtrəmp(ə)rē/


NOUN (plural trumperies)

1 Attractive articles of little value or use.

Example sentences

1.1 Practices or beliefs that are superficially or visually appealing but have little real value or worth.


1 Showy but worthless:

trumpery jewelry

More example sentences

1.1 Delusive or shallow:

that trumpery hope which lets us dupe ourselves

And here are snippets from the lexicographic history of trumpery.

... it would be easy to pick the word of the Presidential race so far: trumpery. This old word for various types of bullshit has gotten new life thanks to bullshit maestro Donald Trump. It’s become a common pastime to link Trump with definitions of trumpery on social media such as Twitter and publications such as Mother Jones. Here in Salon, Randy Malmud suggested we pull a Santorum on Trump by reviving an obscure meaning of trump: to fart loudly. But we hardly need a lexical campaign when trumpery exists. Trump’s name is already as stuffed with horseshit as his words.

Trumpery has had a few other obscure meanings. Misogynistic Trump might be pleased to learn that a trumpery can sometimes be a strumpet. Another meaning refers to weeds or anything else gunking up a garden. Rarely, trumpery has been an adjective. Though it sounds odd today, the OED has examples of trumpery brooch, trumpery performance, trumpery new house, trumpery rhetorician and trumpery quarrel. All those uses involve the insignificant or worthless meaning. An extremely rare variation popped up in 1886: “How these things impress the lover of Gothic who dwells in a country of churches of inexpressible trumperiness and shabbiness!” Trumperiness doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue like truthiness, but then again neither does President Trump. In these dark days, we need all the lexical ammunition we can find.

So Scriber concludes that Trump is well-named.

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