Trending: inaugurate,’ ‘inauguration

Lookups spiked 6,300% on January 20, 2021

Why are people looking up the words inaugurate and inauguration?

The ceremonial swearing-in for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20, 2021 is officially known as inauguration.

What do the words inaugurate and inauguration mean?

Inauguration is defined as:

an act of installing into an office with suitable ceremonies especially : a ceremonial induction into office."

Where do the words inaugurate and inauguration come from?

The English word inauguration connects the idea of a serious and ceremonial beginning with wishes of good luck, since its Latin root inaugurare literally means "to practice augury." Augury is defined as:

divination by the interpretation of omens or portents (such as inspection of the flight of birds or the entrails of sacrificed animals) or of chance phenomena (such as the fall of lots)

These ancient Roman superstitious rituals were often performed when a person began an important new role in public life, hence the connection between a symbolic fortune-telling and a ceremonial start of a term of public office.

Other words that are nearly synonymous with inauguration but carry less figurative weight include induction and installation. Investiture contains the idea of adopting the new clothes or robes associate with a position or office, since its ultimate Latin root, vestis, means "garment" (and survives in the English word vestment).

Citations

The Speaker laid before the House a copy of the Speech of the President of the United States, to both Houses of Congress, delivered yesterday in the senate-chamber, immediately after his inauguration.
Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, 1789

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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