Collusion Is Not Innocuous

As a follow-up to last week’s etymological dissection of “meddling,” and inspired by all the real news about Russian meddling in the 2016 election, I decided this week to take a closer look at another word frequently used in these stories, “collusion,” as in this Newsweek headline from this morning: “Evidence of Trump-Russia Collusion Already Exists, Watergate Prosecutors Say.” Here’s what I found…

Used in its current form since the 14th century, the Old French “collusion” originates from the Latin collusionem, which comes from the verb colludere, an amalgamation of the prefix “com,” as in “with” or “together,” and ludere, which means “to play” and is the same root for ludicrous. Married into one term, “com” and “ludere” mean, loosely, “coming together to play.”

It almost seems innocuous, and even jocular. We of course know otherwise. As legendary English lexicographer Henry Watson Fowler noted, “The notion of fraud or underhandedness is essential to collusion.”

For more Fun with Words, click HERE.

‘Meddling’ Once Meant ‘Screwing’

“Russian meddling.” We hear the term a lot in stories about how Vladimir Putin and company interfered with the 2016 election that installed Donald Trump in the White House. But what is meddling?

Merriam-Webster defines it as “interest[ing] oneself in what is not one’s concern,” or, “to interfere without right or propriety,” but if we go back to the word’s first vernacular explosion, the early 1300s, it’s defined as “to mingle and blend,” from the 12th century Old French “mesler,” which itself evolved from the Latin word “miscere,” to mix. The present participle version we currently use, “action of blending,” didn’t arise until the 1520s.

But, fun fact — and, I think, fitting in this context — from the late 1300s until the 1700s, “meddling” was slang for “having sexual intercourse,” or, another way, “fucking.” As with the roots of “Trump,” this seems more appropriate for the Russia-related headlines, as in “Russia fucked with the election.”

For more Fun with Words, click HERE.

Putin Wants You to Respect Trump

Brutish, undiplomatic President Trump’s something of a pariah among international leaders. Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras once referred to the former reality show host’s agenda as “evil,” while an unnamed European chief reportedly Trump to Mussolini — that’s what Joe Biden heard. But Trumpy does have at least one fan on the world stage: Vladimir Putin.

The Russian president yesterday decried all the anti-Trump rhetoric in the States, claiming opponents’ disapproval is “disrespect.” From the horse’s mouth: “Inside the country, disrespect is shown for him. This is a regrettable negative component of the US political system… One can argue but one can’t show disrespect, even not for him personally but for those people who voted for him.”

He went on,”Mr. Trump was elected by the American people. And at least for this reason, it is necessary to show respect for him, even if you do not agree with some of his positions.” Spoken like a true dictator.

A wily tactician, Putin’s probably buttering up Trump ahead of some policy request, because Putin, like the rest of us, know that the key to Trump’s heart is through his ego.