“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.

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!

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.

12 Days of Aggravation

Male Call}*

…in which the Male Call Advisory Board™ attempts to relieve some of your holiday season stress by declaring a moratorium on 12 Kinds of Aggravation. Presumably, the powers that be, who are known to be avid followers of Male Call (after a morning of CNN, Fox & Friends and Morning Joe), are paying heed.


All that many of us really want for the holiday gifting season is less aggravation. Here are a few empirical guidelines for you singletons.

  1.  No use of the word “gifting.”

Ok, but seriously…

  1. No matter how much holiday fun you’re having, don’t plan an extended vacation together until you’ve endured a road trip.

Picacho Peak — on the road from TUC to PHX

Oh, wait, you already made that mistake. Let’s start over:

  1. No matter what else you’ve done, you’re not a couple until you’ve taken a vexatious road trip together. (Over the river and through the woods to Granma’s does not count.)
  2. Men: In your dating profiles, stop writing what you think people want to hear and write about the true you. You know, like your alleged love of cuddling, chilling a Netflix night, and how laid-back and drama-free you are. The women see through this nettlesome subterfuge.
  3. Women: Stop fake-complimenting yourself: “My friends say I’m funny, adventurous, and look younger than my age.” In fact, leave all those tiresome adjectives out. If you’re funny…be. If you’re adventurous, describe an adventure. In short, use the screenwriter’s maxim: Show Don’t Tell.
  4. Men: You need to know that women are aggravated by your crappy-looking shoes…and apparently they especially hate the socks-with-sandals thing unless you’re a sand volleyball player. (Same goes for “flooders,” aka “high-water” pants).
  5. Women: Take it easy on the garish pink club-going outfits unless your name is Paris Hilton. Same with capris — the “soccer mom” of fashion — unless your name is Alessandra Ambrosio (However, the Male Call Advisory Board tells us there’s such a thing as a “cropped ankle pant” that isn’t too bad.)
  6. Everyone: You don’t get to tell everyone how fair or honest you are (“I guess I’m just too honest for my own good!”). Factitious.
  7. Men: Stop lying about your height. This is women’s number one peeve when they finally do meet you.
  8. Women: Stop posting pictures of your cat, dog or flowers as your Meetup profile pic. Exasperating.
  9. Oh, and stop no-showing at Meetup events: über-exasperating.
  10. And when you do have to cancel going to an event with your friends, you don’t need to add “You guys have fun!” Irksome. Just cancel the RSVP and go to the party you really wanted to in the first place.
  11. Everyone: Don’t give someone driving directions to your meeting place by referencing all the landmarks you and your bothersome besties are familiar with: “Take Via Linda to the Sprouts then turn left at Home Depot and keep going past Trader Joe’s. It’s next to the new Starbucks.” In Arizona, this is known as “Scottsdale navigation.”
  12. Advertisers: Give us all a break and retire the galling phrase “Give the gift of…” as in “the gift of Amazon Prime / adventure / a calmer mind / Master Class / productivity” etc. when you know it’s not a real gift category.










So there you are: Enough pointers for the 12 Days of Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day and Festivus (for the rest of us) to get you through to National Fruitcake Toss Day (Jan. 3).

Originally published by the author in City Sun Times (an excellent metro Phoenix community newspaper), Dec. 4, 2017.
Picacho Peak photo (c) copyright 2012 by James Veihdeffer

You only get one question…

…then shut up and let others have a chance.

I was at a delightful one-man storytelling event at the Tempe History Museum the other night. The performer adopted a variety of costumes and facial devices as he related historical commentaries on the parade of Native American tribal customs from the past thousand or so years – Hohokam, Atzlan, Yaqui and Pima to name a few. The Hohokam (“those who are gone”) are considered to be the builders of the original canal system around the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Zarco Guerrero did a great job of keeping the tales lively and brief and after about 40 minutes the crowd of 50 or so enthusiastic attendees of many ethnic backgrounds was invited to ask questions or give comments.

One woman in the front row was quick to raise her hand and was recognized by the moderator. Her comment, about the Pima tribe’s long-staple cotton, was rather detailed and took a couple minutes to explain. Zarco acknowledged the excellent information with good grace and we were ready for more questions.

Three or four people were recognized by the moderator around the room, each offering a quick question or comment.

And then…and then…our first row lady struck again. From my spot at the end of the second row I could see her hand going up, but I could also see seven or eight hands throughout the room.

Alas, the moderator recognized her again and she launched into a second 4-5-minute commentary.

Now, I’ve seen this kind of thing at several different casual public meetings and always wondered at the self-centeredness of people seated toward the front who think they can just keep asking questions. They don’t look around to see who else is trying to get attention. And almost as bad, the lecturer doesn’t either. Even worse is when there’s a moderator or host who doesn’t scan the room, especially the middle and back areas.

So my rule is: You get to ask one question, with maybe a brief follow-up for clarification. Then you get to shut up for a while.

Look around the room. If no hands are raised, go ahead and ask another question. Then, after five or ten minutes you can jump back in…

…or be prepared for a good old-fashioned Salt River dunking.

Zarco performance photo by the author. Poster from Tempe History Museum promotional site.