Turpitude, venality, and demagogue
When former CIA Director John Brennan weighed in on the firing of former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, he likely expected to make waves. But did he know he’d send searches for his word choices skyrocketing on Dictionary.com? The director’s tweet, issued in response to President Donald Trump, represents the biggest spike in searches on Dictionary.com March 16–23, 2018!
If you looked up any of the words from @JohnBrennan's statement today, you're not alone. Searches for "turpitude," "venality," and "demagogue" are all up today. #Trump #Brennan https://t.co/wJtcLF1bgD
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) March 17, 2018
Turpitude, which means
A Monmouth University poll released this week revealed that three quarters of Americans believe that there’s a deep state, or a clandestine network entrenched inside the government, bureaucracy, intelligence agencies, and other governmental entities which supposedly controls state policy behind the scenes.
But, it wasn’t until the word was defined for them that they said they believed it existed. When simply asked about the “deep state” without a definition, 63% said they weren’t familiar with the term, and only 13% said they knew it well. Is it any wonder searches for deep state jumped sky high this week, with an increase of 1,193%?
As a bomber kept the residents of Austin, Texas enveloped in a cloud of fear, debate erupted online over whether the bombings qualified as terrorism. Searches for the word, which can mean “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes,” or “the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization,” climbed 655%.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) March 21, 2018
Begorrah and top of the morning
It seems plenty of folks had time to put down their pints and search for words on St. Patrick’s Day. Searches for begorrah, an Irish English term that means “by God” were up 104%, while the Irish greeting top of the morning had a more modest 34% rise.
We couldn’t have presaged the spike in searches for presage this week, and yet curiosity over the word climbed 200%. Helping boost it was an article in the New York Review of Books about Canadian author (and cultural critic) Jordan Peterson’s new book 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos.“It is no exaggeration to say that we are in the midst of a similar intellectual and moral breakdown, one that seems to presage a great calamity. Peterson calls it, correctly, ‘psychological and social dissolution.’ But he is a disturbing symptom of the malaise to which he promises a cure,” wrote reviewer Pankaj Mishra.
Presage also got some help from The New York Times. In an article titled “Trump Assails Mueller, Drawing Rebukes From Republicans,” writer Peter Baker noted that prominent members of the GOP have criticized President Donald Trump for his criticisms of Mueller on Twitter. Baker said the tweets “might presage an effort to fire the special counsel.”
When searches for apathy spiked by 36% this week, we admit we were perplexed. We wanted to find the reason, but we were afraid no one would care.
It appears William Alsup—a judge presiding over lawsuits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland against Royal Dutch Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil—isn’t the only person who needed to brush up on his Earth science this week. The judge called for a five-hour tutorial on climate science, just as searches for the greenhouse effect climbed 135%.
In case you’ve been out of high school for awhile, we’ve got your back! The greenhouse effect is an atmospheric heating phenomenon, caused by short-wave solar radiation being readily transmitted inward through the Earth’s atmosphere but longer-wavelength heat radiation less readily transmitted outward, owing to its absorption by atmospheric carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, and other gases. In a nutshell? The rising level of carbon dioxide is viewed with concern.