Lookups spiked 3,700% on August 7, 2020
Denigrate had a relatively rare moment at the top of our lookups on August 7th, 2020, following its use in an announcement by counterintelligence officials that this is what Russia has been trying to do to Joe Biden.
The top U.S. counterintelligence official announced Friday a series of foreign threats facing the 2020 presidential election, warning in particular that Russia is using a range of measures to "primarily denigrate" former Vice President Joe Biden while China prefers that President Trump not win reelection.
— Olivia Beavers, The Hill (thehill.com), 7 Aug. 2020
We define denigrate as “to attack the reputation of” and “to deny the importance or validity of.” The word has been in use in English since the early 16th century, and comes in part from the Latin nigrare, meaning “to blacken.” In an interesting twist the literal sense of the word in English (“to blacken”) came a century or so after the figurative use (“to besmirch or darken someone’s reputation”).
But as for you, Madame, hold you assured of my fayth, by whiche I sweare vnto you, that what torment soeuer shall happen, whether it be sorrowe or death, how ignominyous soeuer it be, shall not force me to say any thing that may denigrate the honour of my Mistresse, conserued hitherto with so great & good reputation.
— Matteo Bandelo, Straunge, lamentable, and tragicall hystories translated out of French into Englishe by R.S, 1577
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.