Made-up Words Said By The People In Charge

It's an electification kinda thing

Considering our PICs (people-in-charge) have a knack for creating their own vocabulary, especially when they are put on the spot, here’s a list of the most creative “made-up words” said by leadership.

Hey, we voted ’em in . . . now they can say what they want.

WATCH: Common Words That Were Coined By U.S. Presidents


You hear this one tossed around all the time during winter, but it was coined by President Obama in 2008, as a play on words from the action movie Armageddon.He was referring to a 2010 snowstorm that walloped Washington, D.C. And now, local news teams all over throw up a SNOWMAGEDDON slide whenever a big storm starts to move in.

lunatic fringe

Teddy Roosevelt was out of the White House when he penned a review in Outlook magazine of an event known as the Armory Show (a New York City art fair). The former Chief Executive wrote in 1913, “The lunatic fringe was fully in evidence, especially in the rooms devoted to the Cubists and the Futurists, or Near-Impressionists.”

When he wrote this sentence, lunatic fringe wasn’t actually a term that anybody knew. But, he continued to use the term another two times that year, in his autobiography and in the book History of Literature.

However, even though no one knew the term, Roosevelt didn’t actually coin it. It’s a hairstyling term commonly used in the late 19th century to describe bangs. Teddy just invented its political use.


Seems like a common word that’s been around for a long time, right?

Well, iffy has been around for over 100 years, and in fact it was coined by President Franklin D. Roosevelt—it means “full of unresolved points or questions.”

The author of Words from the White House, Paul Dickson, said that Roosevelt used this word in press conferences when he wanted to blow off a question. And, soon after he used it, the papers jumped on board reporting the President’s creation of a new word.


OK, she’s not nor was she ever president. But, she came closer than most of us will!

In July of 2010, former Alaskan Governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin offered her opinion on a proposal to build a mosque in the vicinity of the September 11th site. Her words: “Ground Zero Mosque supporters: doesn’t it stab you in the heart, as it does ours throughout the heartland? Peaceful Muslims, pls refudiate.”

Hm, well it’s clear that refute and repudiate are lurking in the background. But, refudiate isn’t an actual word, and the public knew it. They responded by saying her use of non-words set a bad example for students of the English language.

Palin’s response: “‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!” Misunderestimate is a famous coinage by former President George W. Bush. Wee-wee’d up is a lexical creation by former President Barack Obama.


President Trump’s speech pattern has been endlessly dissected. It’s, well, unique.

In the early hours of May 31, 2017, the president decided to tweet, “Despite the negative press covfefe.” That’s it. Not only is there no such word, it’s a glaring sentence fragment. This is one of his made-up words that will forever live in linguistic infamy. We wouldn’t be surprised if this word joins the English lexicon for good after all of its press covfefe.


Say what you will about the two-term run of former President George W. Bush, but his linguistic legacy cannot be disputed. In fact, he had so much, ah, fun with the English language that his version of it received its own name: Bushisms.

“You have to admit in my sentences, I have gone where no man has gone before,” he joked at the 2001 White House Correspondents Dinner.

The former President was credited with coming up with such words as misunderestimate, (malapropism for underestimate) embetter, (meaning “to make better”) resignate, (malapropism for resonate) and analyzation (malapropism for analysis.)


This word seems to have originated with our 16th president, and our definition supports this: “First recorded in 1865-70; sugar + coat.”

Lincoln said in a message to Congress (regarding Southerners) “With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than 30 years.” An official government printer wanted him to change it, but Lincoln said “no.” Was he the beginning of presidential word liberties?


A squatter is “a person who settles on land or occupies property without title, right, or payment of rent.” Bet you didn’t know that President James Madison made up this word, though.

The first recorded use of this word was in a 1788 letter from Madison to George Washington, discussing riffraff up in Maine who were squatting on other people’s property. Ah … the days when presidents had time to worry about squatters.

first lady

According to, in the infancy of the United States, the wife of the president was known as the presidentress. Can you imagine that term being used now?

However, President Zachary Taylor changed that when he eulogized Dolley Madison. He said “She will never be forgotten because she was truly our First Lady for a half-century.” And, presidentress was vanquished for good.


Mulligan is a golf term, “a shot not counted against the score, permitted in unofficial play to a player whose previous shot was poor.” But, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided to use the term outside of golf; he liked to use it in place of the phrase do-over.

Funnily enough, the term itself may originate with an actual golfer named Mulligan. Apparently, this guy often drove his friends to the golf course, and to pay him back his friends always let him take “do-overs” on his strokes.

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