‘Your Kakistocracy Is Collapsing’: John Brennan Burns Trump With Epic Word That Is Breaking The Dictionary
Saturday turned out to be a productive vocabulary day in the United States of America.
The learning began in the morning, when former CIA director John O. Brennan tweeted at President Trump: “Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey.”
The epic insult was part of a raging feud between Trump and various members of the intelligence community, some of whom suspect the president’s inner circle of committing federal crimes, and many of whom Trump says are out to destroy him.
Brennan’s tweet has the internet cheering, even if not everyone totally understood it.
Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey. As the greatest Nation history has known, we have the opportunity to emerge from this nightmare stronger & more committed to ensuring a better life for all Americans, including those you have so tragically deceived. https://t.co/eC6LATH2Gd
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) April 13, 2018
Kleptocracy means a government by thieves, and autocracy means government by one person. Both of those terms have been used liberally by Trump’s critics in the last year or so, but kakistocracy … was that like a government of cack, as in dung?
Searches for the kakistocracy surged to the top of Merriam-Webster, arguably the hippest of the major dictionaries, which recently made “dumpster fire” an official English word.
So Merriam-Webster wrote a short explainer. Kakistos is Greek for “worst,” so kakistocracy means government by the worst people.
The plural is kakistocracies, the dictionary added, in case the world one day ends up with two of them.
📈'Kakistocracy': government by the worst people https://t.co/9S5trfdY4w
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) April 13, 2018
Merriam-Webster traced the word’s first known use to a 159-word sentence in a sermon by a supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War in 1644.
The former CIA chief is not the first one to use the term to describe Trump’s presidency.
Paul Krugman rolled the word out in the New York Times near the beginning of Trump’s term in office: “An American kakistocracy — rule by the worst.”
This isn’t even the first time it’s surged on Merriam-Webster. The dictionary had to explain the word last summer, too, after MSNBC host Joy Reid used it, once again, to drag Trump.
Look up the definition of "kakistocracy" today, my fellow Americans. Things will make much more sense.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) June 29, 2017
This time, however, kakistocracy blew up the charts, with dictionary searches spiking nearly 14,000 percent after Brennan’s tweet.