Trend Watch

Franks Resigns Amid 'Surrogacy' Scandal

Lookups rose 6200%

Surrogacy hit the top of our lookups on December 8th, 2017, after the word made appearances in multiple news stories, all of which were concerned with the manner in which Representative Trent Franks employed it.

Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., is the third member of Congress to announce his resignation this week, saying that he had discussed surrogacy with two female subordinates.
— Jessica Taylor, NPR (, 7 Dec. 2017

Surrogacy comes from the Latin surrogatus, which is the past participle of surrogare (“to substitute”). When the word first was used in English (in the early 19th century) it was with the meaning of “the office of surrogate.” In this sense a surrogate referred to “a person appointed to act in place of another,” frequently a delegate, deputy, or marshall.

The modern sense of surrogacy (and the one intended by Rep. Franks), is concerned with reproduction; we define this word as “the practice of serving as a surrogate mother.” The definition provided for surrogate mother is “a woman who becomes pregnant usually by artificial insemination or surgical implantation of a fertilized egg for the purpose of carrying the fetus to term for another woman.” This use of surrogacy is quite new; our current earliest written evidence of it comes in 1980.

Would you give birth to someone else’s child…for love or cash? Find out why some women have in this astonishing account of surrogacy and sperm banking.
— Paula Dranov, Cosmopolitan, Sept. 1980

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