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The best words and phrases of 2017

During his campaign for president, Donald Trump remarked that he had the “best words.” While linguists may debate that point, it is true that the Trump administration and its exploits have introduced some powerful new words and phrases into our collective lexicon.

What follows is a list of some of the “best words” we either learned or that became popularized in 2017. Not all of them are related to politics or The Donald, but a surprising number of them cropped up in relation to the 45th president.

Dotard: This word has actually been in the English language for centuries, first appearing in Middle English and meaning “imbecile.” The more modern use refers to an old person who has become senile. The popularization of this word comes to us, oddly enough, from Kim Jung Un, who used it to describe Donald Trump. It is a rare occurrence where a non-english speaking dictator taught the United States an english word.

Fake News: Donald Trump takes credit for this phrase. Whether he created it or not, he has certainly popularized it. One would think it refers to news stories that are completely made up, however that isn’t how it is used. A good definition would be “news that doesn’t match the user of the word’s worldview.”

Alternative Facts: This one comes from pollster and spin doctor Kellyanne Conway. She deployed it while defending Sean Spicer’s claim that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history. This turn of phrase is enough to make a linguist’s head spin. What, after all, is the alternative to a fact?

Covfefe: While it is likely, President Trump’s famous tweet was in reference to news “coverage,” the typo “covfefe” has taken on a life of its own. Like fake news and alternative facts, this word can mean whatever you want it to mean.

Clicktivism: While not directly related to the Trump administration, this word refers to the use of the Internet to organize and promote political or social causes and movements, as through postings on social media, email campaigns, and online petitions.

Friendiversary: The yearly recurrence of the date that two or more people first became friends, or at least Facebook friends, which can be years or decades off the actual date two people actually became friends.

Struggle bus: A situation or task that seems difficult or frustrating.

Slay: To strongly impress or overwhelm someone. Mostly used by millennials.

Throw shade: To insult, criticize, or disrespect a person or thing in an indirect, artful manner. Mostly used by teenagers.

Hangry: This has been in use for quite some time, but it officially became a word in 2017. It means feeling irritable or irrationally angry as a result of being hungry.

Superfood: A food considered exceptionally good for one’s health and for boosting the immune system owing to its naturally high content of vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, or omega-3 fatty acids. Mostly used by soccer moms.

Burkini: The proprietary name of a type of bathing suit covering the torso, limbs, and head, worn by women or girls who want to keep their bodies completely covered, especially for religious reasons.

Dad bod: A man’s physique that is slightly overweight or flabby but still attractive. Mostly used by soccer moms and millennials.

Man bun: A man’s hair gathered into a bun at the back or top of the head. Mostly worn by unemployed millennials who will one day trade their man buns for dad bods.

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