“Shitburger”: swearing, made to order

First there was the nothingburger. Now there’s the shitburger.

In a March column for the Wall Street Journal, Ben Zimmer traced nothingburger’s rise from 1950s Hollywood gossip to Capitol Hill politics. But earlier this week, we got a fresh round of nothingburgers when various people in the Trump camp used it—initially—to describe Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer during the presidential campaign in June 2016. 

That all changed after Jr. tweeted out emails showing just how eager he was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russia in that meeting. Stephen Colbert had fun with this metaphor of the month during an opening monologue Tuesday night: “Yesterday, Reince Priebus said this whole story is a nothingburger. Well, these emails have turned into an all-you-can-prosecute buffet.”

Others reacted with a much more colorful variant: shitburger. Twitter, as ever, dished up some telling examples:

Unlike a nothingburger, between the two buns of a shitburger there is a there there—and it’s, um, well, yeah.

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Send in the assclowns

Have those creepy clowns been terrorizing your neighborhood this autumn? Kick ‘em in the seat of their oversized, particolored pants with this choice insult: assclown. To be sure, I’m certain we can all conjure up some far stronger words for those evil motherfuckers, but let’s have a closer look at this jester jibe.   

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Donald Trump swears a lot

We’re delighted to bring you a guest post by Michael Adams, Professor of English at Indiana University Bloomington and past president of the Dictionary Society of North America. Adams specializes in lexicography, slang, and the history of English. He is the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon (2003), Slang: The People’s Poetry (2009), From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages (2011), and In Praise of Profanity (2016). You can expect that last one to reappear here sooner or later.

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Donald Trump swears a lot, perhaps more than any other major presidential candidate in history. I’m not sure that should bother us. Most Americans swear now and then and plenty of us swear more than Mr. Trump swears during his public appearances. I have no idea how much he swears in private; I’m pretty sure it’s none of my damned business.

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For shame!: Outsized insults in The Comedy of Errors

Men: How far we haven’t come.

During the Utah caucuses last month, a super PAC supporting presidential candidate Ted Cruz attacked his Republican counterpart, Donald Trump, with an advertisement featuring a nude photograph of Trump’s wife, Melania. In keeping with a long-evidenced pattern of misogyny, Trump responded by retweeting photographs that suggested Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is less attractive than Melania.

Little has changed, it seems, in 400 years: Not even the great William Shakespeare was above shaming women on the basis of their looks, if his The Comedy of Errors is any measure. But at least he left us with some memorable wordplay, I suppose.

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Unparliamentary Language: Irish Edition (Sweet Focal)

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Image: mikeywally / flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It’s that most wonderful time of the year with the usual outpourings of peace and goodwill to all (wo)men – no more so than those noble elected representatives of the Irish houses of parliament. Yesterday saw some choice usage of the terms ‘harpies’ and ‘hemorrhoids’ within the Irish Senate, something which met with an uproarious reception. The Irish houses of parliament are no stranger to ‘unparliamentary language’, but the real juicy stuff is perhaps not that well known. And so, for the season that’s in it, I hereby present: Unparliamentary Language (Irish Style) – Part One: Sweet Fuck All – a whistle stop tour of the use of strong language(s) within the official records of the Houses of the Oireachtasi.e Dáil Éireann (Lower Parliament) and Seanad Éireann (The Senate).

Note: Ceann Comhairle, Leas-Cheann Comhairle, Cathaoirleach are official Irish titles for ‘speaker/deputy speaker’ i.e. the chairperson.

First up, a wonderful and gingerly tentative use of the mild term ‘feck’, which was not uttered as an insult, but rather within a particularly interesting report to a committee concerning the extent to which the people behind a new postcode system were going to in order to avoid any rude words:

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