Trend Watch

McCabe Fired for Lacking 'Candor'

Lookups rise 5600% after dismissal

Lookups for candor spiked on March 17, 2018, following the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, days before he was set to retire. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in announcing McCabe’s dismissal, used the word:

Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.

It was used in the headline in the New York Times:

Andrew McCabe, a Target of Trump’s F.B.I. Scorn, Is Fired Over Candor Questions

The Times article adds that “Lack of candor is a fireable offense at the FBI,” and McCabe himself also used the word in his statement:

To have my career end in this way, and to be accused of lacking candor when at worst I was distracted in the midst of chaotic events, is incredibly disappointing and unfair.

Candor means “the quality of being open, sincere, and honest.” Its original meaning in English, however, was “whiteness” or “brilliance,” which came from its Latin root candēre, meaning “to shine or glow.” From pureness of color candor developed to mean pureness of character, “unstained purity and innocence,” before arriving at its modern sense, a synonym of “frankness” and “candidness”—another descendant of candēre.

The development of a figurative meaning for candor and candid contrasts with their etymological cousins candle and incandescent, where the idea of “shining” or “glowing” remains literal.

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