Trump’s most erudite troll is the Merriam-Webster dictionary
Merriam-Webster is at it again.
The dictionary company, which had been using not-so-subtle tweets to troll Donald Trump (both the candidate and the president), took to Twitter again to school Kellyanne Conway on what being a feminist means.
Merriam-Webster tweeted a definition of the word “feminism” after the president’s counsellor said that being a feminist is associated with being “anti-male” and “pro-abortion.”
“It’s difficult for me to call myself a feminist in a classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male, and it certainly is very pro-abortion, and I’m neither anti-male or pro-abortion,” Conway said during a conversation onstage with conservative commentator Mercedes Schlapp.
“So, there’s an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices. . . . I look at myself as a product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances.”
The tweet was in response to statements Conway made at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which started earlier this week and ends Saturday.
Lookups for 'feminism' spiked today. It's "the belief that men & women should have equal rights and opportunities." https://t.co/Zjf7CAPUjL
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 24, 2017
Something similar happened a month ago - when Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” to defend false and easily disproved claims that the White House press secretary made about Trump’s inauguration crowd.
In a now-viral tweet sent shortly after Conway’s heated exchange with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Merriam-Webster defined the word “fact,” responding to a spike in searches following Conway’s interview.
A fact is a piece of information presented as having objective reality. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 22, 2017
Then it doubled down on the trolling a couple of days later:
*whispers into the void* In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence. https://t.co/gCKRZZm23c
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 24, 2017
The dictionary company, particularly within the past year, has been using humour and pointed tweets to respond to current events and engage with its followers.
That hasn’t always been the case.
When Merriam-Webster began using Twitter several years ago, the tweets were “pretty scheduled and staid,” its chief digital officer and publisher, Lisa Schneider, said in December.
A Word of the Day tweet goes out in the morning and a quiz tweet in the afternoon. The rigidness was a “shame,” Schneider said, so she decided that creating a social media team and coming up with a new strategy is the way to go.
Merriam-Webster has since adopted a more facetious and quirkier voice on social media - reflective of the personalities of the people behind the company, said Lauren Naturale, the content and social media manager who was hired last year.
Trump has been the subject of some of the company’s memorable trolling.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 17, 2016
That was in response to Trump’s use of the misspelled word in a tweet sent during the early-morning hours of December 17. The tweet was later deleted and replaced with the same message, with “unprecedented” spelled correctly.
In February 2016, the dictionary mocked Trump by trying to define several misspelled words the then-presidential candidate wrote in a tweet.
Last month, lookups of the word “claque” spiked, according to Merriam-Webster. The searches were probably in response to reports that Trump supporters - not CIA staffers - were cheering the president during his visit to the agency’s headquarters. So the dictionary’s response: a tweet defining “claque” - “a group hired to applaud.”
Another noteworthy tweet is the one about fascism, sent out about three weeks after Trump was elected president.
'Fascism' is still our #1 lookup.
# of lookups = how we choose our Word of the Year.
There's still time to look something else up.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 29, 2016
In late November, Merriam-Webster pleaded with its followers: Look something else up - perhaps the word “flummadiddle,” and do so twice a day.
Merriam-Webster’s social media strategy has been well-received by its followers, Naturale said.
“Part of our social mission is to show the world how funny, timely and relevant the dictionary can be,” she told The Post. “Social media is about connecting with people and we love that our followers are very engaged.”
Conway, it seems, has been the subject of some of Merriam-Webster’s more popular tweets. The one about feminism, for instance, has been tweeted more than 12,000 times as of Friday morning. And that alternative facts tweet has had more than 49,000 retweets.