Find out which presidents’ choice words have stuck around as part of our modern chitchat.
Franklin D. Roosevelt invented this term in the 1930s to dismiss questions at various press conferences. Today, we use it to communicate the status of that month-old bread in the refrigerator.
Upon sending an urgent message to Congress, Abraham Lincoln said about Southerners: “With rebellion thus sugar-coated they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than 30 years.” An official government printer found the term to be too casual and asked Lincoln to change it for the record. Lincoln refused. The result: The perfect word-bomb to drop in your next argument.
President Obama riffed off of the popular Michael Bay flick when he first used this term to describe the huge snowstorm that hit Washington, D.C., in 2010. The snow may have melted, but the saying has stuck.
In 1788, Thomas Jefferson was so inspired while writing about the natural beauty of his home state, Virginia that he just had to make up a whole new word to describe it. “The Count de Buffon believes that nature belittles her productions on this side of the Atlantic.” Boom: “Belittle” was born. But Jefferson didn’t stop there. The third U.S. President gets credit for more than 100 new words such as: lengthily, monotonously, and (randomly enough) pedicure.
Are out-of-work hipsters camping out in your neighbor’s apartment? Well, thanks to James Madison, there’s a word for them! The first recorded use of the word “squatter” was in a 1788 letter from Madison to George Washington, discussing homeless Maine residents that lived on other people’s property. If it’s good enough for a president.