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Merriam-Webster is once again explaining to Donald Trump how words work

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Among other crimes—including, hopefully, treason—Donald Trump is a sub-verbal human. He is the diametric opposite of our previous president, who appeared to speak and think in legal-dictionary paragraphs, with a few “folks” thrown in for good measure. Trump, on the other hand, emits words in a diarrheal effusion, with whatever his initial response was getting quickly mixed in with every other thought that comes to his senile, pill-addled head. His interviews, press conferences, and rallies are full of these almost un-diagrammable sentences, and his tweets show us why: The guy does not read. He misspells words and mangles punctuation. The character limit on Twitter is a blessing in that it forces him to at least compress his thought into a single string of text, but even then they are typically petty threats, overt lies, and misdirections.

So Merriam-Webster’s ongoing attempt to correct him and his administration in real time is a helpful counterweight. This is not the fact-checking of Politifact or even the small-minded corrections of grammar pedants, but a sort of reality check, an attempt to make sure we’re all using the same words to mean the same things. Take, for example, this simple tweet from our commander in chief yesterday:


This tweet is part of an ongoing attempt to redirect public conversation about his campaign’s ties with Russia to a conspiracy against him by the Obama administration—essentially trading one conspiracy theory for another, because that is how we live today. Rather than wading into the muck, Merriam-Webster keeps it high-level, even if they are exasperated by constantly having to do this at this point:


Trump has yet to accuse the dictionary of being “fake,” but Merriam-Webster will presumably be ready to define that word for him as well.

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