Thomas Jefferson, America’s third president, coined the phrases “electioneering” and “indecipherable.” John Adams (No. 2) got here up with “caucus.” James Madison (No. 4) was the primary to make use of “squatter” when referring to somebody who occupies a property or territory they don’t personal.
As they got down to build a brand new nation, America’s Founding Fathers have been decided to present the fledgling republic its personal identification and tradition by making up new phrases that have been distinctive to the American expertise.
“It was thought by many of the early presidents — Jefferson, Adams, [George] Washington and others — that they were doing something important,” says Paul Dickson, creator of “Words from the White House: Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America’s Presidents.” “It was this belief that we were separating ourselves from the British.”
The observe of constructing up new phrases outraged British purists, a few of whom considered Americans as individuals and not using a language who stole England’s mom tongue.
“Some of the first words that the British really went crazy over were the words ‘congressional’ and ‘presidential.’ They said they were barbarous,” Dickson says. “But those were words we needed. George Washington, one of the words he created — and again, this helped frame who we were — he talked about his ‘administration.’ That word never existed in terms of a noun to describe the body of people that ruled with you in your Cabinet.”
In some instances, the presidents didn’t give you the phrases and phrases. Some have been created by speechwriters, aides and different acquaintances after which popularized by the president. For instance, John Jay, Washington’s secretary for international affairs, is alleged to have coined “Americanize.”
A key nonpresidential determine who helped codify these new Americanisms was Noah Webster, who printed his first dictionary in 1806. Webster fought within the Revolutionary War, which secured America’s independence from England. While wandering via a New York army camp stuffed with warfare veterans, he noticed the necessity for a singular American language.
“He was hearing voices of Indigenous people. He was hearing Irish brogues. He was hearing all sorts of different kinds of language and different kinds of speaking, and heavily accented,” Dickson says. “And he realized that this country is going to be a big mix of different people, different interests, and it needed a new language. It needed something called the ‘American language,’ which is a term he created. … Noah Webster actually said that creating a new language was an act of defiance.”
While future presidents additionally coined new phrases, Dickson says the founders have been notably prolific. Jefferson alone is credited for developing with greater than 100 phrases, together with “belittle,” “pedicure,” “monotonously” and “ottoman” [footstool]. Fittingly, he additionally invented the verb “neologize,” which is the observe of coining new phrases or expressions.
Instead of claiming “within doors,” Washington created the phrase “indoors.” The first president additionally got here up with “average” [medium sum or quantity] and “New Yorker.”
Adams borrowed from the basic Spanish novel, “Don Quixote” to create the adjective “quixotic” [unrealistic schemes]. The first recorded makes use of of “hustle” [to move rapidly] and “lengthy” [long, protracted] got here from Adams’ journal entries.
Although the earliest American leaders began the observe, neologizing finally turned one thing of a presidential custom.
“There were certain presidents that have a knack for this, and some of it was conscious. Some of it was sort-of semi-conscious,” Dickson says. “It became, it was, sort of, the American way.”
Despite inventing quite a few memorable phrases and phrases, America’s early leaders fell wanting coining a time period to explain themselves — the extraordinary group of males who based the United States and created the framework for its authorities. That didn’t occur till a century later.
In the Nineteen Twenties, President Warren Harding dubbed them the “Founding Fathers” and in doing so, created one of the memorable and iconic Americanisms of all of them.