Trend Watch

Skittles: 'Skittles Are Candy. Refugees Are People. We Don't Feel It's an Appropriate Analogy.'

Searches for 'skittles' spiked after Donald Trump Jr. compared the candy brand to people displaced by the crisis in Syria

Lookups for skittle spiked on September 20th, as Twitter reacted to this tweet from Donald Trump Jr.:

The candy brand Skittles replied with the statement "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people. We don't feel it's an appropriate analogy."

In truth, we don't enter the "candy" sense of skittle—that's a trademarked word. Unlike some of the trademarks we do enter, such as such as Kleenex, Frisbee, and Dumpster, the word skittles has not shown prolonged and substantial use as a general term. In other words, if skittles were to be used for a number of years by many people to refer to any sort of small colorful candy, then it would merit a distinct definition—but that hasn't happened so far.

So, why is skittles in our dictionary? The word has a long-standing use in English, referring to a British bowling game in which a wooden ball is used to knock down pins, or skittles. The earliest evidence we have for this word comes from a 1630 play, used in rather poetic fashion.

To cleaue you from the scalpe
Vnto the twist: to make nine skittles of
Your bones, and winde your heratstrings 'bout my thumbe—
—William D’Avenant, The Just Italian, 1630

This "bowling" sense of skittles is the sense intended in the phrase beer and skittles, as in "life isn't all beer and skittles."

Trend Watch tracks popular lookups to see what people are talking about. You can always see all Trend Watch articles here.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!