Neologist-in-Chief? Donald Trump Coins "Covfefe" and Social Media Erupts

Move over "bigly," step aside “braggadocious” there's a new, tremendous, really, really beautiful Trumpism in town.

William Shakespeare was famed for coining new words to the English language. Indeed, the Bard came up with more than 1,000 new words over his lifetime, adding a richness and variety to the lexicon. 

Donald Trump, most would agree, is no Shakespeare. 

But the president, more by accident than by design, has become something of a neologist himself, having given the world "bigly" and "braggadocious" — and now, a new gem in "covfefe." Late on Tuesday, Trump began tweeting what appeared to be another attack on the press but seemingly got distracted halfway, only managing to tweet the words "[d]espite the constant negative press" before ending proceedings with the typo "covfefe."

Or was it a typo? After all, he did say, "I know words. I have the best words"

After two hours the tweet was still sitting there proudly atop the president's personal Twitter feed, with no correction or explanation. Almost inevitably, Twitter users jumped on the rogue word and thus began a deluge of mockery with "covfefe" quickly trending worldwide.

Early Wednesday morning, though, the president seemed to notice his mistake and deleted the original tweet, replacing it with one poking fun at his mistake: "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe'??? Enjoy!" Overnight, though, plenty of Hollywood stars were happy to come up with possible meanings for the word. And Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary publisher both got in on the act, with the accounts for those publications posting tweets reflecting the confusion. There was even a @covfefe Twitter account created.

At an off-camera press gaggle on Wednesday, Sean Spicer defended the tweet, responding with a "no," when asked if "people should be concerned that the president posted somewhat of an incoherent tweet last night." When asked why the misspelled tweet stayed up for nearly six hours before the president deleted it, Spicer said, "The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant." Reporters, who could be heard laughing at Spicer's response, then tried to get the press secretary to define "covfefe," but he moved on.

 

 

May 31, 4:41 a.m. This story has been updated to reflect the president deleting his original tweet and acknowledging the "covfefe" frenzy.

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