Trending: ill-begotten

Lookups spiked 15,200% on March 2, 2022

Why are people looking up ill-begotten?

Ill-begotten spiked dramatically in lookups on March 2nd, 2022, after President Biden used the word in his State of the Union address.

US president Joe Biden has warned Russian oligarchs that America and its European allies were going to go after their “ill-begotten” luxury aircraft, yachts and homes.
— Martin Wall, The Irish Times, 2 Mar. 2022

What does ill-begotten mean?

Ill-begotten may be defined in a number of ways, such as “badly planned, ill-conceived,” “having an illicit or improper origin,” or “illicit, improper.” Begotten is the past-participle of beget, which is defined in this context as “to produce especially as an effect or outgrowth.”

Where does ill-begotten come from?

The word has been in use in English since the 1620s, initially use in a somewhat literal manner (referring to children begotten poorly) and then quickly extended to figurative meanings (referring to thoughts, rather than progeny).

Whence we may see, that the ill begotten children of the godly are rather left vnder the curse of their fathers sinne, then made partakers of any of their vertues.
—Richard Bernard, Ruths recompense, 1628

These ill begotten thoughts he still maintayn'd,
And cherisht to his death, whose period
Of life, was the beginning of my mischiefe.
—Shackerley Marmion, A fine companion, 1633

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.


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