When America’s leaders can’t consider the right phrase for sure conditions, they often make one up. And these new phrases typically go down in historical past.
From “lunatic fringe” (Teddy Roosevelt) and “iffy” (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
to “snowmageddon” (Barack Obama) and “bigly” (Donald Trump), the phrases coined by U.S. presidents are as distinctive because the American expertise.
“We’re really creating our own institutions through language,” says Paul Dickson, writer of “Words from the White House: Words and Phrases Coined or Popularized by America’s Presidents.” “So, when John Quincy Adams creates the word ‘gag rule,’ or somebody creates another word that actually fits into what we do, once you have a word for it, then it becomes a reality.”
Thomas Jefferson is claimed to have created greater than 100 phrases, together with “authentication” [act of proving the accuracy or legitimacy of something] and “anglomania” [an excessive fondness for all things English].
Abraham Lincoln coined the phrases “relocate” and “relocation,” the time period “a house divided” in reference to the Civil War, and in response to The New York Times,” the phrase “cool” [nice, good].
Teddy Roosevelt added a number of memorable phrases and phrases to American English.
“Teddy Roosevelt creates this huge body of slang,” Dickson says. “‘Pack rat,’ ‘mollycoddle,’ ‘frazzle,’ ‘malefactors of great wealth,’ ‘loose cannon,’ ‘lunatic fringe,’ ‘bully pulpit,’ ‘pussyfooter,’ and on and on.”
Woodrow Wilson is believed to have been the primary to make use of the slogan “America First” in 1915. He was also criticized for being the first president to drop “the” before “Congress.” Wilson’s successor, Warren Harding, will get credit score for arising with the time period “Founding Fathers” to explain the framers of the Constitution. Harding additionally originated the phrases “normalcy” and “bloviate” [to speak bombastically or grandiosely].
Before Calvin Coolidge, no political campaigner had ever branded himself as a “law- and-order” candidate. Harry Truman devised the phrase “do-nothing Congress” and the saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Lyndon Johnson was the primary to name handshakes “pressing the flesh.”
The new phrases stuffed in loads of blanks as when, in 1934, the sitting president determined his annual report back to Congress wanted a extra becoming title.
“It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who changed the name of the ‘Report to Congress’ to the ‘State of the Union,’ and that was a much better description of what was going on than a ‘Report to Congress,’” Dickson says.
Inventing new phrases drew the ire of critics who felt presidents ought to keep on with correct English, like when FDR used “iffy” for the primary time.
“He said, ‘Well, it’s pretty iffy as to where the Supreme Court stands on this,’ and that made headlines: ‘Roosevelt created the word ‘iffy’!’” Dickson says.
The Oxford English dictionary additionally cites FDR as being the primary to make use of the phrase “cheerleader” [a person who leads the cheering at a sporting or special event].
wight D. Eisenhower is admired for conceiving the time period, “military-industrial complex” in 1961, to warn towards the highly effective alliance of the army, authorities and personal firms. But he was slammed for uttering one other phrase in a speech.
“He used the phrase ‘finalize’ — taking ‘final’ and turning it right into a verb — and there was this enormous outcry. There had been editorials within the main papers that the president should not use a phrase like finalize. It wasn’t correct English,” Dickson says.
Critics known as the phrase nonexistent,” “hideous,” “atrocious” and “meaningless.”
Dickson says necessity is the explanation presidents proceed to plot new phrases.
“They come up when they’re needed … to deal with the times, to deal with what was going on, whether it be the Great Depression or whether it be World War II, or whether it’s the change in fashion or politics,” he says. “President [Richard] Nixon coming up with the word ‘solid majority,’ or President Obama talking about certain projects which were ‘shovel-ready,’ that had never been heard before, that meant that they could immediately start working on the project.”
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, is remembered for calling himself the “decider” [person who makes the final call] and utilizing the phrase “misunderestimate” [to seriously underestimate.]
While the presidential expressions which have entered the American lexicon are wildly numerous, there is likely to be one high quality the presidents share.
“A number of them showed great cleverness. That’s what they have in common. They were not just smart. They were clever. They were witty,” Dickson says. “They often have to think on their feet, and when they think on their feet, sometimes there isn’t an existing word to say what they mean. And they just make one up.”