Trending: churlish

Lookups spiked 3,500% on February 27, 2019

Why are people looking up churlish?

Churlish gave a surly and petulant shrug of its shoulders and stomped to the top of our lookups on February 27th, 2019, after President Trump’s former lawyer used the word in his closing statement to testimony given before a committee of representatives.

What does churlish mean?

We provide three definitions for churlish: “of, resembling, or characteristic of a churl,” “marked by a lack of civility or graciousness,” and “difficult to work with, intractable.” Churl also has a range of possible meanings, including (but not limited to) “a medieval peasant,” “a rustic person,” and “a rude, ill-bred person.”

Where does churlish come from?

Churlish, and, presumably, the people for whom such a descriptor would be applicable, has been with us for a very long time (before the 12th century). The word comes from the Middle English cherlyssh (“of churls, rustic, uncouth”), which may be traced back further to the Old English word ceorl ("male person, countryman, member of the lowest class of free men”).


Againe consider on the other side that whatsoever other good qualities a man hath, yet if he be of an unkinde and churlish nature he shal never winne the hearts of men, nor ever prevaile in any worthy service, in Church, in common-wealth or family, a sower, cynicall, and  churlish behaviour is distastfull to everie one.
— Edward Elton, An exposition of the Epistle of St Paule to the Colossians, 1615

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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