Trend Watch

Trump and Clinton Accuse Each Other of Having the Wrong Temperament to Be President

Lookups for 'temperament' increased 78 times over our hourly average

Lookups for temperament spiked 78 times over our hourly average as the presidential debate caused people to turn to our dictionary in search of that word’s many meanings.

I think my strongest asset, maybe by far is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win. She does not.
—Donald Trump, Presidential Debate Transcript

That's bad judgment. That is not the right temperament to be commander in chief....
-Hillary Clinton, Presidential Debate Transcript

Temperament has been in the English language for a considerable length of time: its use dates back to the 15th century. There are a number of senses of the word which have become more or less obsolete, such as the one that saw a person’s temperament as their character based on the proportion of the four humors in the body (there were choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic, and sanguine temperaments).

The sense in which both candidates appeared to be using temperament likely had little to do with bile of phlegm, and instead was more in line with the usual modern sense of the word, “the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal.”

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