Political Terms Dominate New Dictionary Entries

By Mark Nichol

Dictionary.com’s newest set of entries to its lexicon, and some revised definitions for existing terms, reflect the politically themed discourse that has dominated the media over the past year. This post shares and defines some of those terms.

Alt-right, discussed in this DailyWritingTips.com post, is not new to Dictionary.com, but its definition has been extended to clarify that the central tenets of those who espouse extreme right wing ideology are white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Similarly, though far is of course not a new listing, its definition now alludes to the sense of extreme political views when it appears in combination with left and right. Meanwhile, the existing entry for alt refers to the abbreviation’s usage in alt-right, and the one for “white nationalism” makes a distinction, based on geopolitical focus, between that phrase and “white supremacy.”

The phrase “fake news” has its own new entry, describing the term as pertaining to sensationalized false journalistic content that serves to boost ad revenue and/or discredit an entity that is the subject of the content. An entry surprising for its late appearance is “false flag,” which has long referred to the use by marine vessels of a flag of a country the ship doesn’t represent in order to deceive personnel on an enemy vessel.

By extension, the term now alludes to events in which a country attacks its own territory or assets and blames the attack on a belligerent nation (or an entity such as a terrorist organization), or to similar operations carried out in civilian contexts, as when a group or individual frames another for a violent act the first group or individual secretly committed in order to discredit the other party.

Recommended for you: « »



3 Responses to “Political Terms Dominate New Dictionary Entries”

  • Dale A. Wood

    I still say that “alt” comes from the jargon of computers and computer programmers. There is a key on computer keyboards that says “alt”, and it is the so-called “alternate” key.
    It is well-known for its use in combination with other keys, such as control+alt+delete in Microsoft Windows.
    I use programs that have commands like alt+(left arrow), and alt+(right arrow), and alt+(up arrow). Aha: alt-right.
    Maybe alt+up will take on a religious connotation!

  • Dale A. Wood

    “False flag” can just as well pertain to ground troops in combat, and it does not necessarily have anything to do with SHIPS. (correction!)

  • Dale A. Wood

    “False flag” can just as well pertain to ground troops in combat, and it does not necessarily have anything to do with troops. Long ago, Confederate troops could wear captured U.S. Army uniforms, and march under American flags, to carry out surprise attacks behind Union lines – and to try to capture war supplies.
    Much more recently (late 1944), some Nazi German troops in Belgium and Luxembourg wore captured American uniforms while attacking American and British troops during the Battle of the Bulge. By late 1944, Adolf Hitler and his Nazis were desperate enough to try almost anything to try to win battles.

Leave a comment: