Word of the Day: Trump
by Tan Chu Chze
IF THERE is one thing the recent United States’ (US) presidential election has proved, it is that Donald Trump lives up to his name.
Against all odds – and the popular vote – he beat Hillary Clinton to become president-elect of the US. Trump trumped.
But in more ways than one, Trump embodies trump.
Like many things American, the word ‘trump’ actually has more than one origin. It is a marriage of two words.
The first sense of ‘trump’ comes from the word ‘triumph’, which Trump prides himself for. We all know by now how much Trump is all about winning, and it does make one wonder if that is because he is just full of himself.
But ‘trump’ and Trump also share one more thing in common: Two generations ago, the Trump family were Drumpfs, hailing from Germany. Nobody knows exactly why the family name was changed, but records show it just did.
Similarly, the alteration from ‘triumph’ to ‘trump’ is a bit of a mystery. All we do know is that ‘trump’ – meaning winning – is most commonly used in card games like Bridge. That is also where we get the term ‘trump card’ or the idiom ‘to come up trumps’, like how the Trumps have come up as part of the president-elect’s transition team. As it seems, the entire family is decked in their winning suits to take over the house of cards.
Besides that, ‘trump’ and Trump also have something to do with trumpets. While the word ‘trump’ is ‘trumpet’ in a shortened form, one could say president-elect Trump embodies the same word in human form.
There is, however, one more meaning of ‘trump’ that is obscure and perhaps the least associated with big T Trump. This variation of ‘trump’ means to trick or deceive.
Oddly enough, it is also connected to the other two meanings of ‘trump’: To ‘trump’, in this sense, comes from the idea of blowing the trumpet loudly to attract the attention of the public, then trick them into buying something. Or voting, for that matter. Many people say that is exactly how Trump won the election.
Maybe that too is a trumped-up charge? Who knows. But, it sure is pretty Hillaryous.
Featured image by Sean Chong.
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