Lookups spiked 1,600% on September 29, 2020
The first of the 2020 Presidential debates had not yet begun, and already lookups for the word gaffe were spiking on September 29, 2020, in anticipation (some might say salivation) of one of the candidates committing one of these.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, shut down a question Sunday from CNN’s Jake Tapper about any “gaffe” her husband may make.
“Oh, you can't even go there,” Jill Biden told the “State of the Union” host when he led into a question by noting that the former vice president “has been known to make the occasional gaffe.”
— Rebecca Klar, The Hill, 27 Sept. 2020
We define gaffe as either “a social or diplomatic blunder" or “a noticeable mistake.” It is borrowed from French, and is believed to be a sense development of the same word (gaffe), going back to Middle French, and which was borrowed from Old Occitan gaf (it was probably derivative of gafar, meaning "to seize," of obscure origin).
Meanwhile, we fail to see why the White House should deem it so important to be getting along with Robert Lowell, who said he found the presidential gaffe “funny and a little sad.”
— The Morning News (Wilmington, DE), 14 Aug. 1965
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.