Thanks to the Mueller investigation, this is Dictionary.com’s most-searched-for term of 2019. According to Congressman Michael Turner (R-Ohio), it’s meaningless, yet I heard it in traffic court only the day before and couldn’t help wondering if group-think had coopted the judge’s tongue. It would not be the first time I was last to the linguistic party of current affairs.
So many of our ten-dollar words come to us in this way, ignored or unknown for years until, suddenly, they crop up like kudzu in summer—in books, in conversation, in the news. Words, like fashions, trend, and trending words are often made-up words for which a great many of us have no use: twerking, shredding, phat. Yet there are real words for real things in this world that we never think about. Aglets recently came to my attention, those little plastic sheathes on shoelaces. Granted, they may not enjoy center stage yet, but who’s to say that aglets not the next chads? Remember those? Hanging chads, swinging chads, dimpled chads?
That was an election to remember, as will be the next, no doubt. But whether Donald Trump is exonerated of collusion or not, exoneration, like chads, is a word that voters on both sides of the divide will never forget.