Origin of wing nut
Words nearby wing nut
ABOUT THIS WORD
What does wing nut mean?
Wing nut is an insulting slang term for a person who’s considered eccentric or who has extreme political views.
In a completely different context, wing nut is also a term for a nut (a piece of usually metal hardware that attaches to a bolt) with two tabs on its sides that kind of look like wings. The “wings” make turning the nut by hand easier when it’s being attached to a bolt. It’s also called a butterfly nut (because of the “wings”) or a thumbnut (because it can be easily turned with the thumb and forefinger).
Both senses of the word can also be spelled wingnut and wing-nut.
The only connection between the two senses of the word is probably the word nut, which can be used to refer to a person considered eccentric (someone who is nutty). However, nut can also be used as a negative slang term for a person who is mentally ill, and wing nut can also imply this. Keep in mind that when used in this way, these terms may reinforce harmful stereotypes and associations with mental illness.
Example: Every local government meeting has a few wing nuts who show up to spout off conspiracy theories during the public comment session.
Where does wing nut come from?
The first records of wing nut referring to the piece of hardware come from the 1900s. When it refers to an eccentric person or a political extremist, its origin is less certain. In those cases, it makes use of the sense of nut referring to an eccentric or insane person.
In its political sense, wing nut is probably based on the use of the terms right-wing and left-wing in the discussion of polarized politics, especially in the U.S. A person considered to have an extreme ideology might be insultingly labeled a right-wing nut or a left-wing nut. Today, the term wing nut is often applied without specifying the “wing” being referred to, as in Commentators labeled the senator a wing nut for his extreme views on foreign policy. Use of wing nut in this way gained popularity in the late 1900s and early 2000s.
The term is also used outside of politics as a mostly negative term for oddballs or crackpots, as in I avoid reading the comments because it’s mostly trolls and wing nuts.
The wings on literal wing nuts make them easier to screw onto bolts with your fingers, but they also make it so that the nut can’t be tightened with tools like socket wrenches. For this reason, wing nuts are usually used in things that need to be quickly adjusted or frequently assembled or disassembled, but that do not require the connection to be as tight as it could be.
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What are some other forms related to wing nut?
- wingnut (alternate spelling)
- wing-nut (alternate spelling)
What are some synonyms for wing nut?
What are some words that share a root or word element with wing nut?
What are some words that often get used in discussing wing nut?
How is wing nut used in real life?
When it refers to extremists or eccentrics, wing nut is always used negatively, usually as a dismissive insult.
Could we use a wing nut with Loctite to secure the LJ Wing bottom headers for shipping?
— Jeffrey Wilson (@MestekJeff) June 18, 2009
the worst part about 5g conspiracy theories is that it's going to be really hard to not sound like a wingnut when you tell them how it actually interferes with weather predictions
— peek (@PK_PDX) April 6, 2020
Maybe the most ethical way I could spend my 40s is starting a fake crazy wingnut late night radio show that slowly edges paranoid people towards non-destructive weirdness like geodesic domes
— rstevens 🐳💨 (@rstevens) September 11, 2019
Try using wing nut!
Which of the following words is least likely to describe a person considered a wing nut?
How to use wing nut in a sentence
To borrow an old right-wing talking point, these people are angry no matter what we do.
There is, however, a separate wing of AQAP designed to inspire their followers to conduct attacks against the West.U.S. Spies See Al Qaeda Fingerprints on Paris Massacre|Shane Harris, Nancy A. Youssef|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
He sometimes surmised that it was because he was too outspokenly identified with the diminished liberal wing of the party.Ed Brooke: The Senate's Civil Rights Pioneer and Prophet of a Post-Racial America|John Avlon|January 4, 2015|DAILY BEAST
Limbaugh makes comments like this because his right-wing fans require a non–stop diet of race-baiting red meat.
In other words, this is a very small vast-right-wing-conspiracy.How Canadian Oilmen Pinkwash the Keystone Pipeline|Jay Michaelson|December 28, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Done, says he, why let fifty of our men advance, and flank them on each wing.
His idea was that there would be ample time later to order a concentration on either wing or on the centre.Napoleon's Marshals|R. P. Dunn-Pattison
This was a hard nut to crack, if his past were not to be ruthlessly severed from Angel's by a word.Rosemary in Search of a Father|C. N. Williamson
It is prepared from the nut of the areca palm, one of the most beautiful trees in the world.Alila, Our Little Philippine Cousin|Mary Hazelton Wade
As it was he had to press Nejdi into a fast gallop before he could clear the left wing of the advancing army.The Red Year|Louis Tracy