Eliza Newlin Carney
By Eliza Newlin Carney | Nov 08, 2016
Whether or not Donald Trump wins this election, his candidacy will have added several new words to the nation’s vocabulary.
From Trumpnik to Trumpista, Trumpian and Trumpism, words to describe Trump’s followers, ideology, and movement have popped up in print, on the air, and on the internet. There are trending Twitter hashtags such as #Trumpkin, which could alternately mean a Trump devotee or a Halloween pumpkin in the likeness of the orange-haired GOP nominee. There was also the #NeverTrump movement, and talk of the “Trump Effect.” Here is a brief glossary of the Trump-inspired words that have, for the moment at least, entered the political lexicon:
The popularity of the term Trumpkin caused some consternation on the right, prompting The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn to chide that it was “meant at once to describe and demean” Trump’s backers. Rhyming as it does with Munchkin, Trumpkin does evoke something small, possibly ridiculous, and not to be taken seriously. Munchkin, in turn, calls to mind the Wizard who created a fantastic but deceptive show in the Land of Oz, giving Trumpkin added resonance. Trumpkin also took on a second meaning last month, as jack-o’-lanterns carved to look like Trump became the rage, and some noted with glee that pumpkin pulp made the perfect hair.
If Trumpkin ruffled feathers, Trumpnik struck some conservatives as even worse, evoking as it does a Communist apparatchik—an arguably fitting moniker for fans of a candidate who likes to flatter Russian President Vladimir Putin. In one Twitter exchange about the proper moniker for Trump followers, Commentary Editor John Podhoretz declared: “It’s TrumpKIN not TrumpNIK.”
Trumpist is the mainstream shorthand to describe the quintessential Trump follower, who by varying accounts is a non-college-educated white male, an unemployed factory worker, a reactionary with racist inclinations, or any American who’s angry, worried, and economically insecure. Thus The Economist wonders, “What might a Trumpist Republican Party look like?” And Ross Douthat, of The New York Times, warns that it’s not hard to imagine post-election “armed clashes between Trumpist militias and left-wing protesters.” Douthat also wins a wordsmithing prize for referencing, in the same story, the possibility that some Trump supporters will cheer a “Trumperdammerung” should he lose.
For those who don’t refer to Trump followers as Trumpers, Trumpniks, or Trumpkins, Trumpistas has emerged as an alternative. Trumpistas sound a bit revolutionary, like the Sandinistas who belong to Nicaragua’s democratic socialist party. When Kathleen Parker described the genteel shock that followed Trump’s crass comments at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner last month, The Washington Post fittingly headlined her story: “Elites booed, Trumpistas cheered.”
Trumpian describes all things Trump, good or bad. When The St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed Democrat Tammy Duckworth over GOP incumbent Mark Kirk for U.S. Senate in Illinois, the paper referenced Kirk’s attempt to insult Duckworth’s Thai parentage as “a racist comment of Trumpian proportions.”
The movement spawned by Trump is best known as Trumpism, by some accounts an uprising of Americans who think the system is “rigged” against them. “Win or lose, the Trump effect will be felt long after the election,” Showtime President David Nevins recently told The Washington Post in an article titled: “Trumpism isn’t going away.”
Such Trump-inspired words’ staying power will hinge entirely on whether he wins or loses. A Trump win would no doubt enshrine these and many other Trump variants in the dictionary forever. A Trump loss would give them less cachet. One word that will stick around no matter what—a word that existed long before “the Donald” came along, and that may capture him best of all—is trumpery. On October 20, the word-lovers’ website Wordsmith circulated trumpery as its “Word of the Day” with the following definition:
1. Something showy but worthless.
2. Nonsense or rubbish.
3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.