Lookups For 'Betrayal' Spike After Reporters Ask Spicer To Define the Word
Lookups for betrayal spiked on January 31, 2017. During a contentious press conference, President Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer used the word betrayal to describe the firing of Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to order the Justice Department to defend the executive order regarding immigration.
One reporter asked, “Is it a betrayal? That’s a very odd word,” and another asked, “Why use the word betrayal?” Finally, a reporter asked Spicer, “Define the word betrayal” to which he responded, “I’m not going to define the word.”
We are going to define the word.
Betrayal is the noun that came from the verb betray, which has several meanings, including “to deliver to an enemy by treachery,” “to fail or desert especially in time of need,” “to reveal unintentionally,” and “to disclose in violation of confidence." Betrayal means "the act of betraying or fact of being betrayed."
Betray was used in President Trump’s memo dismissing Yates:
The acting Attorney, General Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.
Although the verb betray has been in use for a considerable length of time dating back to the 13th century, the noun betrayal is much more recent. Our records indicate that the word began to enter general use around the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries.
I am to let my Moderation be known unto all Men: How? Not in a sinful Compliance with unwarrantable Practices, or a Tracherous betrayal of our Constitution either in Church or State, any more then Prosecuting the Interests of either with a bitter and unbecoming Zeal.
—Philip Stubs, Of Religious Charity, and Religious Loyalty, 1704
In Monday's announcement, Yates wrote:
My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. In addition, I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.
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