Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Musings on "Loser", Donald Trump's Favorite Insult

If you live in the United States and listen to, watch, or read the news regularly, then you've probably been hearing the word "loser" a lot lately. Whether you've been closely following the news regarding next year's presidential election or doing your hardest to avoid it since it's months and months away, there's no escaping the fact that Donald Trump uses the word "loser" as an insult constantly.

We're not interested in discussing political issues here, but we do find his use of the term linguistically fascinating. We can't recall any other prominent presidential candidate in recent history who was so fond of such insults, can you? It's worth mentioning that while "loser" does seem to be his favorite, he's also known to frequently use the words "moron" and "dummy", among others.

His penchant for insults has wormed its way into countless news stories over the past several months. It has even reached the point where the word "loser" is now synonymous with Donald Trump. He uses the term to describe pretty much everyone (as shown in this piece in The Washington Post), which never fails to make it into news stories since it's somewhat unusual for American politicians to use such a generic insult. Sure, they insult each other, but they generally use more specific attacks based on political views or perceived character flaws instead of using childish terms like "loser".

The word "loser" may seem childish to me because I remember hearing it all the time when I was a child in the '90s. Back then, people used this popular hand gesture instead of bothering to say the word. It even got its own anthem, the song "Loser" by Beck, complete with dubiously pronounced Spanish in the chorus. However, I hadn't heard this insult in years until it starting flying out of Donald Trump's mouth constantly. I'm sure kids do still call each other losers from time to time, but I bet they also have more recent slang words that they use more frequently.

According to the Oxford Dictionaries, a loser is "a person or thing that loses or has lost something", "a person who accepts defeat with good or bad grace", "a person or thing that is put at a disadvantage by a particular situation or course of action", or informally, " a person who fails frequently or is generally unsuccessful in life".

However, none of these definitions really describe Donald Trump's use of the term, which means it's time to turn to the Urban Dictionary. As usual, its user-submitted definitions are not always accurate or politically correct, but a few do get the idea across. This includes the third most popular definition, which says it is a word used by certain people "to make them feel better about themselves while laughing at the misfortunes of many people...".

What do you think of the word "loser" and Donald Trump's use of it? Can you think of other recent prominent figures who used similar language? Let us know in the comments below.