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US election word of the week: Trumpmentum

 © PhotoDiscIn this series we are looking at some of the language and terminology associated with the US electoral process in the run-up to the Presidential election in late 2016. This week’s word is Trumpmentum.

As Donald Trump sweeps towards almost certain Republican nomination next month, it seems like a good time to look at this rather ungainly term. Trumpmentum is a blend of the candidate’s surname and the last two syllables of momentumThe word started to be seen in 2015, when the idea that Trump might become the GOP‘s candidate for the US Presidency seemed fanciful to most people.

Portmanteau words often provoke strong negative reactions, and with its central cluster of consonants Trumpmentum is at the less pleasing end of the spectrum, being awkward both to spell and to say. If we wonder how such an unattractive word gains currency, all becomes clear when we learn that the first example of a -mentum blend was Joementum, which Democratic candidate Joe Lieberman over-optimistically claimed to have back in 2004. Joementum has all the qualities of a good portmanteau, even if the man who claimed to have it fell at the first hurdle. Since then other combinations have been tried, including Mittmentum (for Mitt Romney), Newtmentum (Newt Gingrich), and more recently Berniementum (Bernie Sanders), with limited success.

Look out for the next post in this series. You can find past posts on the language of American politics here and here, or search for other posts in this series using the tag US politics.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

1 Comment

  • My favorite portmanteau related to Donald Trump is “Trumper tantrum,” a blending of “Trump” and the last three syllables of “temper tantrum.” (It may be usually written as one word, “Trumpertantrum,” but since “temper tantrum” is really two words, I have separated “Trumper tantrum.”)

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