Trending: impeach

Lookups spiked 3,600% on September 24, 2019

Why are people looking up impeach?

Impeach put its best foot forward, and stepped into the top of our lookups on September 24th, 2019, following an announcement by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Tuesday that the House would begin a formal impeachment inquiry of President Trump, opening a fresh chapter of confrontation in response to startling allegations that the president sought to enlist a foreign power for his own political gain.
— Nicholas Fandos, The New York Times, 24 Sept. 2019

What does impeach mean?

Impeach may be defined in multiple ways, including “to charge with a crime or misdemeanor” and “to cast doubt on.” The former of these carries the additional specific meaning of “to charge (a public official) before a competent tribunal with misconduct in office”; the latter is often found used with the meaning “to challenge the credibility or validity of.”

Although often thought of as "remove from office," impeach has a precise legal meaning in cases such as this, in which the action describes as a step in removing an official from office, but does not refer to the removal itself.

What is notable about this use of impeach?

In addition to impeach, both quid pro quo and Rubicon were notably higher in lookups than usual. Quid pro quo is defined as “something given or received for something else,” and comes from the New Latin, in which it means “something for something.” We define Rubicon as “a bounding or limiting line; especially one that when crossed commits a person irrevocably.” Rubicon is the name of a river north central Italy which lent its name to figurative use in the beginning of the 17th century; a reference to its crossing, in 49 B.C., by Julius Caesar (who knew that crossing it represented a violation of Roman law).


He tels us of Maistet Pims death, as remarkable newes, and how he  was impeached of Treason, and that he died of the Herodian visitation, and that hee was a most loathsome and foule Carcasse.
— Anon. An answer to Mercurius Aulicus, 1643

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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