Trend Watch

Denying Reports of Improper Contact, Trump Calls Russia 'a Ruse'

'A stratagem or trick usually intended to deceive'

Lookups for ruse (“a stratagem or trick usually intended to deceive”) spiked after the President of the United States used the word while denying the reports of improper communication between his campaign and Russian intelligence. The FBI is investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Russian government to affect the outcome of the presidential election.

“Russia is a ruse,” Mr. Trump said. “I have nothing to do with Russia, haven’t made a phone call to Russia in years.”, 16 Feb. 2017

Ruse comes to English from French, in which language it long ago had the meaning of both “trickery” and “a roundabout path taken by fleeing game.” The second of these two definitions had a brief period of use in English during the 15th century, but is now quite obsolete. The word is now little used as a hunting term, and primarily is found to refer to some instance of subterfuge.

There was no time to be lost; the remedy was administered successfully, and off I started; but, alas! the wind was high and swept the skirts of my riding habit so determinedly against the side of the poor beast, that before long its false coat was transferred to the dark cloth, and my innocent ruse exposed.
—Mary Seacole, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, 1857

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