Trend Watch

Bannon: Meeting at Trump Tower 'Treasonous'

Lookups spike after reports from forthcoming book

Lookups for treasonous spiked on January 3, 2018, after Steve Bannon reportedly used the word in a forthcoming book to describe the actions of Donald Trump’s inner circle. Bannon is reported to have commented that a 2016 Trump Tower meeting of Trump family and campaign officials with Russian lawyers was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic,” indicating that the FBI should have been informed of the meeting.

Photo: Gage Skidmore

'Treasonous' is from the Latin verb 'tradere,' meaning “to hand over” or “to betray.”

"The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor -- with no lawyers. They didn't have any lawyers," Bannon continued, according to the Guardian. "Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***, and I happen to think it's all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately."
— Maegan Vazquez, CNN Politics (cnn.com), 3 Jan. 2018

Treasonous means “relating to, consisting of, or involving the crime of trying to overthrow your country’s government or of helping your country’s enemies during war.” Like most of the vocabulary for both government and law, it came to English through French from Latin: the verb tradere, meaning “to hand over” or “to betray,” is also the ultimate root of traitor.

Interestingly, the synonyms of treasonous are competing etymological cousins, including traitorous and treasonable, which had been the most commonly seen form in English until recently.


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