Trump speaks in strange and curious ways.
Regardless of your personal political leaning, if you consider yourself a wordsmith of any caliber, you’ve probably been taken aback by President Donald Trump’s extemporaneous syntax and usage.
Merriam-Webster, the dictionary purveyor, has taken note.
Last week, when Trump claimed credit for coming up with the phrase, “priming the pump,” scribes and scholars were quick to point out that, in fact, he had not coined it.
Merriam-Webster tweeted the following:
‘Pump priming’ has been used to refer to government investment expenditures since at least 1933. https://t.co/VfkGwwzZRC
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 11, 2017
There are any number of explanations as to why Trump took credit for the phrase. He may have been joking. He may have never heard the phrase and independently came up with it. Both are at least somewhat plausible explanations. Still, this is not the first time Merriam-Webster has stepped in to offer a Trumprovement. (See what I did there?)
The verbal arbiter was there when Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway injected “alternative facts” into the American lexicon:
*whispers into the void* In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 24, 2017
It spoke out again after Trump misused the word “council” in a tweet:
counsel: ⚖ a lawyer appointed to advise and represent in legal matters
council: 🙋an assembly or meeting for consultation or discussion
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 8, 2017
It even weighed in when Trump won the election last November:
We’ve updated our Twitter header in honor of the election. pic.twitter.com/mOFT8sUlVD
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 7, 2016
The Trump-trolling strategy has boosted the audiences for “Saturday Night Live” and “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” and it has done the same for Merriam-Webster. The company has doubled its Twitter following (to more than 465,000 as of this writing) since Trump took office.
So you know, M-W offers this definition for troll as a verb:
2a: to antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content
Perhaps “to correct reckless verbiage” should be 2b.