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Campaign insults from red to blue

As a helpless victim in a purple swing state during the 2014 political campaign, I suffered through a months-long waterboarding with the most vile, ugly, vicious political ads I can recall. And in the wake of the actual election, all I’ve wanted to do is rest, recover, and avoid as much political news and analysis as possible.

This morning, however, I came across something that appealed to my inner linguist — an analysis of the insults and epithets commonly used during the campaign and which were most popular with which party. The story, “How to insult your political opponents like an American” by lexicographer Katherine Martin, is from the OxfordWords blog at the Oxford Dictionaries. One of the graphics:

Martin discusses the origins and intent of some of the terms, but most are self-explanatory. And it’s worth noting that more than a few I’ve heard in private were not suitable for inclusion in this study.

I wonder if this breakdown will continue to be valid over the next two years. For example, will Democrats, now in the minority, become the new obstructionists?

Frankly I’d not been aware that many of the unflattering words I’ve used to describe the opposition were notably partisan, but if the shoe fits …

And let’s be honest: Is it an insult if it’s true?


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