Charles Dickens is famous for giving his characters whimsical names that often reflect their personalities. “Scrooge” is probably the best-known, unmistakably conveying a grasping miserliness in almost tangible terms.
If Dickens had written about a vulgar, aggressive billionaire intent on seeking power, crushing his enemies, and emblazoning his name around the world, he could hardly have chosen a better name than “Trump.”
But we’re not talking about a literary character. Trump is a real person who makes sure his name is repeated 24/7 in every possible mass-media outlet.
And therein lies the problem. Deciphering a sentence that we read or hear means instantaneously ignoring all of the irrelevant denotative and connotative meanings of each word or phrase and hearing/reading the intended one.
Because of the drumbeat of Trump, Trump, Trump, few of us can hear the common verb trump without thinking of the man.
Moreover, in our intensely political atmosphere, we hear accusations of fakery almost every day, and the go-to adjective is trumped-up. It’s too much!
A piece in Reader Supported News actually uses it about the man himself: “A war against Iran will be a trumped-up war manufactured to burnish the president’s power and popularity.” Right, literally trumped-up. No pun intended.
It’s a powerful association, representing the unique congruence of a famous name and a common word that reflects the person who bears the name.
As a public service, I present a list of synonyms that will reduce the intrusiveness and omnipresence of Trump/trump:
The first two correspond to the most common meanings of trump. The others convey various shades of meaning. Pick the one that most closely fits your context.
Trumped up has many synonyms — bogus, concocted, cooked up, deceitful, dishonest, fraudulent, fishy, and others that, fittingly, seem to pertain to the man himself.
Using trump and trumped-upinstead of a synonym creates a distraction that gives the man even more “product placement,” of which he already has plenty.
So let’s work together to de-trumpify our language!