Obambulate? Did Ellen DeGeneres coin the term after dancing with Barack Obama? Well, no: It’s ripped from the dictionary, not the headlines — and it’s not the only long word that seems to echo this seemingly endless campaign.
Last week, subscribers to Wordsmith’s daily e-mail (A.Word.A.Day) received these actual, eerily familiar dictionary entries: bidentate, palinode, meeken, barrack, and obambulate (which dates to 1614 and means “to walk about”). Palinode sounds like an Op-Ed lauding Alaska’s governor, but it’s really “a poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem.” (For fun, replace poem with interview and author with candidate.) But any real politicians who might be reading this should be careful: Use these words well, and they’ll call you an elitist; mangle them, and your name is mud (see: Bushism).
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