From lawsuits on the gridiron to scandal in the Oval Office and a jump over the pond into the land of K-pop, trending words were all over the map this week!
Toadyism and oleaginous
Writer George Will can always be counted on to fill his columns with interesting words, and his latest Washington Post article titled “Trump Is No Longer the Worst Person in Government” was no different. Will referred to Vice President Mike Pence as “oleaginous” and made reference to what Will called the VP’s “toadyism,” sending curious readers searching for context on Dictionary.com. The result was an 8550% spike in searches for toadyism, which means “an obsequious flatterer; sycophant.” Searches for oleaginous, meanwhile, jumped 8648%. The word means “unctuous or smarmy.”
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 10, 2018
Wag the dog
The term wag the dog has been getting a lot of usage in recent weeks, with President Donald Trump’s administration mired in scandals and foreign policy issues heating up in both North Korea and Iran. But, it was Trump’s decision to pull out of the Iran deal this week that sent searches on a 290% spike.
Wag the dog means to distract attention away from a political scandal, often through military action. Drawn from the longer expression the tail wagging the dog, it is also the name of a 1997 film in which a war is fabricated to distract Americans from a president’s personal life.
Fervent fans of K-pop group BTS have a habit of sending word searches flying on Dictionary.com, and the release of BTS’s newest song, “Singularity,” was just the thing to make it happen again. Searches for the meaning of singularity climbed 7558%. It means “a singular, unusual, or unique quality; peculiarity.”
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 7, 2018
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s way with words tends to send folks scurrying for a little help when deciphering her columns, and this week was no different. In Dowd’s opinion piece titled “The Naked Truth About Trump,” the columnist noted that comedienne Michelle Wolf “turned a gimlet eye on the media” during the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Searches for gimlet eye immediately shot up 176%. So, what does it mean? A gimlet eye is another way to say a “sharp or piercing glance.”
An old interview by DJ Khaled was resurfaced by The Root this week, and it didn’t paint the DJ in the best light. Khaled was quoted as saying there are “different rules” for men and women in regards to oral sex. And, Dictionary.com couldn’t not highlight the double standard at play, which also had searches for the meaning of the term go up by 369% as a result!
Double standard. A code containing different provisions for one group of people than for another, especially an unwritten code of sexual behavior permitting men more freedom than women.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 4, 2018
It may mean “talking or tending to talk too much or freely,” but folks took a little time out of their own talking this week to send searches for loquaciousness up 485%. The reason seems to rest in the writing of Wall Street Journal reporter Peter Nicholas, who referred to President Donald Trump’s loquaciousness as a reason why his lawyers struggled during a four-hour prep session for his possible meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Oligarch and oligarchy
Allegations that a firm linked to a Russian oligarch paid President Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen sent searches for both oligarch and oligarchy flying this week. Oligarchy, which was up 381% in searches, means “a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.” So, what is an oligarch? Those who spiked searches by 230% found out it means “one of the rulers in an oligarchy.”
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 9, 2018
💦 (i.e., sweat droplets emoji)
Yes, emoji are in the dictionary! And folks who sent searches for this particular emoji, known as the sweat droplets emoji, up 145% learned it’s not always used to refer to sweat. It can mean sexual fluids. Or water. Or sweat. Just be careful out there, folks! Practice safe emoji usage.
Special counsel Robert Mueller played a hand in more than one of our trending words this week. Searches for pettifoggery took a huge leap, after Mueller was accused of the act of “quibbling over unimportant matters” by a firm representing an alleged Russian troll farm operation.
Searches for the meaning of "pettifoggery" have 🚀 on https://t.co/EoMLt7nGp1 since Robert Mueller was accused of this act of "quibbling over unimportant matters." They're up 10,043%. https://t.co/X8Hz9bw54V https://t.co/G94sBnJP0r
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) May 6, 2018
With news that the NFL Players Association had filed grievance and a system arbitrator case against the league on behalf of free-agent safety Eric Reid, searches for arbitrate took a 123% leap. Reid, who protested police brutality and racial discrimination by kneeling during the national anthem last season, was questioned by Bengals owner Mike Brown about his plans to do so during the coming season. Those questions are being challenged by Reid and the NFLPA, and there’s a need for someone to arbitrate, or “decide between opposing or contending parties or sides,” in the case at hand.
Want more trending words? Find out why searches for unhinged, naughty, and shambolic were all flying high last week.