Trend Watch

Ryan: Trump is 'Trolling People, Honestly'

Lookups rise 2100% after press conference


Troll was among our top lookups on July 24th, 2018, after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was quoted as employing the term (with a chuckle) in reference to President Trump's reported threats to revoke the security clearances of former intelligence officials.

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Photo: Gage Skidmore

The word has taken on several recent verb senses.

Troll has been in use in English as a verb since the 15th century, initially with the meaning "to cause to move round and round," and later taking on senses related to fishing. The sense in which Ryan used the word is the newest sense of troll, one which we recently added to our dictionary. This modern meaning may be broken down to several closely related meanings:

To antagonize (others) online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.

To act as a troll ("a person who intentionally antagonizes others online") on (a forum, site, etc.)

To harass, criticize, or antagonize (someone) especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts.



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