Trending: ‘con man’
Lookups spiked 800% on February 27, 2019
Con man sweet-talked its way to the top of our lookups on February 27th, 2019, following reports that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, planned on using this term as a descriptor of his erstwhile client in testimony to be given before Congress later today.
Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer, plans to tell Congress on Wednesday that Mr. Trump is a “con man” and a “cheat” who knew an adviser was communicating with WikiLeaks about the release of Democratic emails that were hacked by Russia.
— The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2019
Con man, a shortened form of confidence man, is defined as “a person who tricks other people in order to get their money.”
Confidence has existed in English as a noun (“a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances”) since Middle English, and may be traced back to the latin confīdens (“trusting in oneself, confident”). The adjectival sense of confidence (“of, relating to, or adept at swindling by false promises”) appears to date from the 19th century.
The Confidence Man Again.—It is an old saying, and a very true one, nevertheless, that “all the fools are not yet dead in the world,> and so we find it, by the old trick recently revived, and practiced, a few days ago, on one of the intelligent merchants of our city.
— New York Herald, 28 Nov. 1848
John Quinn, of Pittsburg, complained to the police yesterday that he had been robbed of $280 in cash, $270 in pool tickets, and an $85 gold watch by Samuel Goodman, a “con” man, who rung in loaded dice on him while in a State street saloon.
— Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), 5 Aug. 1881
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.