Trend Watch

Trump Calls Racism 'Repugnant'

Lookups spike following a Trump speech clarifying his position on racist violence over the past weekend.

Repugnant fought its way to among our top lookups on August 14th, 2017, after President Trump used the word in a statement.

President Donald Trump bowed to overwhelming pressure that he personally condemn white supremacists who incited bloody demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend — labeling their racists views “evil” after two days of equivocal statements.

“Racism is evil,” Mr. Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
—Glenn Thrush, The New York Times, 14 Aug. 2017

Repugnant shares a root with a number of combative words in English, such as pugnacious ("aggressive"), expugn ("to take by storm"), and oppugn ("to fight against"), all of which may be traced to the Latin word pugnare ("to fight").

In modern use the word is most often encountered with the meaning of "exciting distaste or aversion." However, when repugnant first began being used in English, in the 15th century, it tended to carry the meaning of "characterized by opposition and especially contradictory opposition." The word also had the sense of "hostile, disposed to fight against something," before taking on its current meaning.

Thus haue you offered violence to the lawe, to the peace, to the welth and helth of the realme: your edicts are repugnant to the quiet thereof, neither were they euer desired but by you of the league....
—Edward Aggas, The Contre-League, 1589

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