Trend Watch

Rapport

The final Colbert Report led to some unusual dictionary research ...


When:

Lookups spiked on December 19, 2014.

Why:

The final episode of the Colbert Report brought about an unusual bit of dictionary research: many people googled the phonetic spelling repore - a search which leads to the Merriam-Webster entry for rapport - which has a silent t, as it does in French. Just as Stephen Colbert's show threw a wrench in the cable news formula, it threw a wrench into English pronunciation: playing on the French silent t in his name, he made Report rhyme with a faux-French pronunciation.

In fact, the English words report and rapport are similar words borrowed from French; in modern French they are a single word spelled rapport. The audio pronunciations most frequently listened to at Merriam-Webster.com include many foreign terms such as niche and schadenfreude, but the problem of silent terminal letters in French always makes English speakers curious (and perhaps insecure).

This isn't the first time Colbert had a run-in with the dictionary. In 2006, his coinage truthiness was named Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year by an online popular vote. He responded by gloating on his program, then complaining that the word wasn't yet entered in our dictionary.



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