“Trump-ese”: New Terminology of the Trump Era

Attention: word hounds, logophiles and grammaristas. If you want to keep up with the cool kids, you totes need to be aware of some of the most current, hip terms that are being used by pundits.

These include: “to Huckabize,” “Mooch out,” “‘Stormy’ weather,” “MAGAfy” and our old favorite,”covfefe” (that we didn’t make up).

  • “Huckabize” (v): To lamely attempt to explain someone’s outrageously untruthful or misleading remark, usually accomplished with a totally dour expression.

Example 1: Trump on the Parkland, Fla. shooting: “I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon” (Feb 26, 2018).

Huckabized: “Trump’s remarks signaled a desire to ‘play a role’ in protecting students at the school…“He was just stating that as a leader he would have stepped in and hopefully been able to help,” Sanders said.

Example 2: Regarding Trump’s characterization of Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” in a Nov. 27, 2017 speech:*

Huckabized: “I think what most people find offensive is Senator Warren lying about her heritage to advance her career,” Sanders said.

Example 3:  Trump targeted Democratic lawmakers who didn’t applaud during his State of the Union speech, calling their reaction “un-American.” “Can we call that treason? Why not?”

Huckabized: Trump was being “tongue-in-cheek,” Huckabee Sanders told reporters, adding that Trump was “clearly joking” in his remarks.

  • “Mooch out” (v): a parting expression used when one needs to leave a party or event early, like saying “peace out.” (named after Anthony Scaramucci, smooth-talking former hedge fund executive who lasted 10 days as White House Communications Director in July 2017).

Usage:Sorry but I have to mooch out in order to meet my mistress…er…wife…at the airport.” Or “He was here earlier but mooched out about 11pm.”

  • “Stormy” weather (n): catch phrase used to warn about a dire consequence of taking some action, such as a lawsuit or media storm of bad publicity. (Named after porn star “Stormy” Daniels in connection with the fallout of alleged relations with Donald Trump). The term ‘Stormy’ is typically set in quotes in print to indicate the wry or droll use of the term; in spoken contexts, air quotes or dramatic eye-rolls are used.

Usage: “Get ready for some ‘Stormy’ weather if you go ahead with that.” Or, “There’ll be ‘Stormy’ weather for sure if the Board proceeds with that half-baked plan.” Or “You can try that method but watch out for ‘Stormy’ weather if the stockholders get wind of what’s going on.”

  • MAGAfy (v): to over-promise something beyond any reasonable hope of accomplishment, especially in vague, un-documentable terms while suggesting that this is how to make America great again.

Example: referring to poverty, rusted out factories, “young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge,” and “crime and gangs and drugs,” Trump said in his Jan. 20, 2017 innaugural address: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Usage: “Trump totally MAGAfied what he was going to do about crime…like he thought he could simply declare a moratorium on poverty, gangs and drugs and it would  somehow take effect after being sworn in.”

  • “covfefe” (n,v): a multi-purpose term, like ‘widget’ that can be used under any circumstance to mean anything.

Usage: Despite the constant negative press covfefe”, Donald Trump posted on Twitter at midnight (12:06 a.m.) May 31, 2017. But nobody really knows what it means. Some think he meant “coverage”; others think “coffee.” Still others point out if you type “covfefe” into Google Translate and specify that it’s Russian, it translates as “Soviet.”

However, my theory is that he actually meant kayfabe — a professional wrestling world “code” term meaning: “the portrayal of staged events within the industry as real or true.” Thus, “a wrestler breaking kayfabe during a show would be likened to an actor breaking character on-camera.” Recall that in July 2017 Trump re-tweeted his July 2011 appearance on “Battle of the Billionaires” at WrestleMania 23. “Kayfabe covers both the fact that matches are scripted and that wrestlers portray characters for their shows. Unlike actors who only portray their characters when on set or on stage professional wrestlers often stay ‘in character’ outside the shows.”**





Some non-wrasslin’ world examples in current use:

Example 1, from a recipe instruction: “At this point, the cof’veve should be sprinkled lightly on top, either using fingers or a small ornate spoon…However, a little cof’veve goes a long way so do not be tempted to overdo this fascinating ingredient.” (see pic at right)

Example 2: That’s strictly covfeve; the rest of the team really doesn’t care.

Example 3: “Listen, don’t bring up all that covfeve stuff during the trial.”



* as well as during the 2016 campaign.
** thanks go out to The World in Words (“The Secretive Language of Professional Wrestling”) March 9, 2018. for alerting me to this peculiar term.
Note that “Huckabize” overrides the short-lived earlier expressions “to Kellyanne” and “to Spicerate” which were just gaining traction when Kellyanne Conway short-circuited the media with “alternative facts” and Sean Spicer said that Syrian President Bashar Assad was far worse than Adolf Hitler during World War II.

It is believed…CVS

I was browsing through my neighborhood CVS a few months ago waiting for a prescription and ran across this peculiar device. Interestingly, the display was situated directly across from the pharmacy windows.

Several aspects of this quackery can be unpacked.

1. The packaging clearly indicates something about “magnetic” and “magnets” but it’s only in the smaller print that you actually learn what’s in the package. Maybe that’s obvious, but rather than label the package “Magnetic,” why not just say “Magic Magnets” or “The Power of Magnets” or “Here Be Magnets”?

2. The ad copy in the center says “Magnets” but only refers to them; that is, it only implies that that’s what’s in the package.

3. You have to actually look pretty close to see the contents: “4 magnets”

Of course that’s just quibbling about packaging.

4. So now, the coup de grâce: the ad copy only says that “it is believed” that magnets have certain healthful (but very vague) medical/physiological benefits.

Talk about your wishy-washy, FDA-skirting mumbo jumbo!

I was back in the CVS a couple days ago and tried hunting down the product display, but, to CVS’s credit, it was nowhere to be found. I actually asked the pharmacy folks about it but they just rolled their eyes and said they were unfamiliar with the product.

Kudos to CVS, not only for removing this ridiculous device but also for…drum roll...removing this celebrity quack from the magazine stand. (At least, I couldn’t find his mag, which is usually prominently placed on the stand.)

Or maybe he’s just between issues. Or getting ready for his next summoning before a Senate subcommittee.




800 vs 1-800

I recently needed to file an insurance claim for my vehicle and went to dial the company’s toll-free number: 1-800-692-6326. However, thinking that the “1” prefix was not necessary I dialed 800-692-6326. (See the P.S. for the reason I’m leaving the number intact.)

Instead of connecting directly to American Family Insurance, I connected to some kind of survey promising me a chance to win a fabulous vacation package.  Of course I didn’t know that at the time.

Here’s how it went down.

The recording didn’t offer the usual options; instead, it asked if I’d be willing to take a simple 3-question survey. Well, OK, the claims department is probably busy so I can humor them for a minute until a claims agent is available.

Recording: “Are you over 50 years old? Press or touch ‘one’ to answer ‘yes.”

Me: (touching the ‘1’ on my keypad)

Recording: “Congratulations, you have won a chance to…<blah blah blah, something about fabulous vacation trip>

Me: (frantically pressing ###)

Recording: (hangs up)

Frankly, I don’t recall the details of the fabulous offer but I was particularly annoyed that: (a) my insurance company would answer with a survey, and (b) that they hung up on me.

I immediately called my local agent who informed me that their claims office in Wisconsin answers with a set of options and they don’t have such a survey. The agency owner also said they’ve never received a complaint like this. He offered to submit my claim himself on the spot.

Out of curiosity, I dialed the claims number again, this time using the “1” prefix. Bingo. I got a recording identify the company by name and offering a series of appropriate options.

Holy crap! I thought that it didn’t really matter whether you actually typed in the “1” and thought I’d save myself a teensy amount of trouble with the shortcut number.

Boy was I wrong. I tried doing some Google research on whether there’s a difference between 1-800 and just plain 800 but all I got were tutorials about the nature of different toll-free numbers. I then filed an FCC complaint, mostly just to see if the government could explain this apparent phone number hijacking scam.

So, dear readers…if you’re still dear with me: I would like to know if there’s an actual difference between the two kinds of numbers…and, if so, is that even legal? I’d love to hear you comments on this.

P.S. I just dialed the plain-jane 800 number so I could report the exact wording of their survey.

Recording: “You have reached a number that is not available from your calling area.”

I figure there’s no harm in posting it — in case anyone thinks they can score a fabulous vacation.

Deep State Wine

A new wine purveyor seems to have entered the oenology scene recently. We say “seems” since it’s not entirely clear what the provenance of this “purveyor” is. And by provenance we don’t just mean “where” but “who” and “what” as well. In fact, “purveyor” is as close as we can come to describing the nature of this super-secret organization.

[click on photo to view]

The wine itself is simply labeled “DSW”—if you can find the marking at all. (Hint: you have to hold the bottle up to a light source to see the subtle engraving in the bottle.) In fact, it took sources deep inside the industry who spoke on condition of anonymity to find out that this apparently stands for something called “Deep State Wineries.”

From what we can discern, no one knows precisely who these winemakers are or where their vineyards are located. Some say that the vineyards actually are moved around the globe, season by season, possibly perched in corner acres of otherwise respectable terroirs. For this reason, these sources have dubbed the shadowy vintners “wine terroiristes,” though it’s not clear if this is simply an insider joke.

All that seems to be known is that the group is some kind alphabet organization — CIA? FBI? NATO? UNICEF? — much like the name of the wine itself.

As to what’s in the wine, we can only go to “memos” from admittedly shady sources:

“If you’re looking for bright, fruity and approachable acidity…keep looking,” said one aficionado.

“Hints of tobacco and damp oak,” said another.

“Complete absence of mango, lemon, buttery almond and Fuji apple,” yet another shadowy figure said.

“Definitely not gluten-free. Indeed, it seems like the vignerons have gone out of their way to add extra gluten!”

The bottle is notoriously stingy with details. The label appears to have been redacted of any useful information and the initials DSW, as noted, are visible only when the bottle is held at a certain angle under a black light.

One oddity about the distribution: for some reason the product, while not readily available in general, is specifically not available within the boundaries of the District of Columbia. As a result, a lively black market has arisen in Alexandria, Arlington and Bethesda, along with the inner sanctum of Great Falls National Park.

One “Deep Stater” sums up the tasting profile thus:

“It has a foresty mouthfeel…but not that amusing golf-course-kick-your-ball-back-onto-the-fairway-type woods. No, this is more of a dusky, heavy-timber woodland terroir where large-footed creatures dare their prey to show themselves and would be happy to have your eyeballs for breakfast. Salut!

Et Tu, Walmart Grocery?

I stopped by my neighborhood Walmart Grocery the other day to pick up some bananas, milk, butter and yogurt. Now, all cultural stereotypes aside, I don’t patronize this store for groceries all that much simply because it’s kind of limited in the admittedly few high-class items I like.

In case you’re not familiar, Walmart’s grocery operation is not your full-blown Walmart but it’s pretty much the same ambiance. The wine selection, for example, tends to favor sparkling rosés, tequilas and boxed wines. But the store (which took over the Food City operation a few years ago) is close by and handy for grabbing a few staples.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that Walmart has become Sproutserized! Whole Foods-inated. Trader Joe’s-ified

Yes, Walmart now offers an extensive line of apparently totally unnecessary gluten-free butter products (among other items).

After my double- and triple-takes on this shelf label, I thought, Well, maybe I’m just not understanding this gluten idea and perhaps butter products are part of the Celiac no-go list. (And, apologies in advance to true gluten sufferers)

So I checked a half-dozen reputable Celiac sites including Celiac.com, Celiac Travel, Gastro.net, No Gluten, and, of course the Celiac Disease Foundation.

The results (to cite No Gluten) are unanimous: “Can you safely use butter as an ingredient in your foods? Or should you abandon this ingredient and choose some other foods that don’t use butter? Let’s answer the question, ‘is butter gluten-free?’ The answer is yes, butter is gluten-free.”

Has even Walmart joined the parade of purveyors of pointless gluten-free products? A few months ago I noticed my local Safeway had started offering gluten-free sugar, which I buy in bulk for my hummingbird feeders.

When I did a quick Internet search on this I found that some folks were getting all constipated about it on the grounds that since sugar may be stocked in the vicinity of flour, there could be cross-contamination as glutenized flour molecules make a daring escape and inevitably invade the innocent nearby sugar bags. (Slightly more realistically, there could be a possibility of cross-contamination in the manufacturing process from companies that produce both grain and sugar products.)

I should add that my heart goes out to Celiac sufferers. It’s got to be tough managing your diet, especially you Catholics who may not have the option to avoid Vatican-mandated gluten Communion hosts.*

Of course I bought the regular sugar for my hummers and haven’t heard any complaints to date.

*A regular wafer contains approximately 22 milligrams of gluten. I got interested in the gluten-free wafer movement from my sister who tipped me off to her rogue church (my term, not hers) in Kentucky of all places, that was offering a gluten-free communion option.
See Why the Catholic Church bans gluten-free communion wafers” and “The Catholic Church says no to gluten-free communion. Here’s why”
However, the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration (their real name) in Clyde, Mo., (a real place) became the first community to produce low-gluten altar breads that were approved by the U.S. bishops in 2003.
In 2004, Alessio Fasano, then-director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, said that one of the Benedictine Sisters’ low-gluten wafers contained such low gluten that someone with celiac disease would have to consume 270 wafers daily to reach a danger point.


Retiring the Tired “Word of the Year”

It’s time to retire the “Word of the Year” that various dictionaries publish each year — like “complicit” (Dictionary.com) “youthquake” (Oxford), “feminism” (Merriam-Webster); and “fake news” (American Dialect Society, although their WTF Word of the Year, covfefe, isn’t too bad.)

As I understand it, the organizations have different criteria such as frequency, presumed significance, etc. But what are we learning of any real use by hearing that a lot of people are still using the word “feminism”?

Now, I’d make an exception for milkshake duck (“person or character that is deeply loved until problematic behavior is revealed or unearthed” coined in a 2016 tweet by Ben Ward, an Australian cartoonist), or Boaty McBoatface, which is more of a name than a word, per se.

So how about using the Word of the Year to enlighten us about actual new trends that onboard us to the new year?

My proposed list from 2017 starts with:

Doxing: searching for and publishing private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent. [from documents–>docs, originally “dropping dox” from 1990s hacker slang]

Dad jokes: corny pun-filled jokes; the most embarrassingly type of bad joke. Characteristics: “a joke told by a father, or of the type associated with fathers, especially one which is (1) hackneyed, embarrassing, or unoriginal (2) usually involving wordplay and (3) is told repeatedly, even to people who have already heard it.” — see Grammar Girl “A guy went to the dentist for false teeth and only had a dollar so they gave him a buck tooth.” (My dentist brother is fond of this one though he won’t admit it.)

Cell phone strut* ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯↓

 Scaramucci (noun) a time measurement typically referring to a 10-day span. Neatly fills the gap between a “week” and a “fortnight.”

Normie: someone not in on the joke (typically used by “alt-right” folks)

Red-pill (verb): To red-pill someone is to explain the truth to them and open their eyes, to make the decision to understand reality, “find out how deep the rabbit hole goes.” (reference to The Matrix, also typically an alt-right term: “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth”)

FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out, e.g., the fear that if you don’t go to a wild party you’ll miss out on something great…even if what you’re actually doing (attending your BFF’s wedding reception on a beach in Bali) is obviously the hotter deal.  (“BFF” is now officially retired as well.) “John’s fomo got the best of him and he ended up at the party.”

Perma-cold**: a seasonal cold that just keeps going well beyond any reasonable length of time — like the one I have now.

*For some reason, the strut just doesn’t seem to work as well with men…



** OK, I just made up perma-cold to make you feel sorry for me.

If Donnie was in my Eng. 101 class

Donnie, Donnie, please check your work before submitting it. Just because a word seems important, you don’t need to uppercase it. And watch for sentence fragments. Also, try to stay focused—one topic per paragraph please.

You see, Donnie, when you grow up and have to write a college admissions essay or a cover letter to get a job, the people reading it will be judging your ability to put words together in a sensible, cogent manner.  But how much credibility do you think you’ll have if you don’t even seem to know the difference between “aid” (help) and “aide” (an assistant to an important person, especially to a political leader)? Or if you go around just randomly capitalizing words. Or inserting bizarre, meaningless one-word exclamations?

They may draw the conclusion that you make random decisions based on your current stream of consciousness and can’t be bothered to proofread, much less cofveve your paragraphs.

 Going forward, I’ll expect to see you in the Writing Center before you finalize your assignments. GL.