Trend Watch

Trump: Statement That Obama Founded ISIS Was 'Sarcasm'

Lookups for 'sarcasm' spiked after Trump used the word to describe his claim that the President of the United States founded ISIS

Sarcasm and sarcastic both shot to the top of our look-ups on August 12th as Donald Trump sought to explicate his claim that President Obama founded ISIS (President Obama did not found ISIS):

Donald Trump Explains His Obama-Founded-ISIS Claim as ‘Sarcasm’
The New York Times, 12 Aug. 2016

In reversal, Trump says IS claim about Obama was sarcastic
The Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2016

Both words may be traced to the Greek word sarkazein, which may be defined as “to tear flesh like dogs,” “bite the lips in rage,” or “speak bitterly, sneer.” Of the two, sarcasm is the older word, with use dating back to 1550. Sarcasm means "a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain" or "a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual."

Our earliest citation for the word sarcastic comes from 1638, when Edward Raban used it in a rather self-serving fashion:

To Vindicate, and deliver my self, from the imputation of Sarcastick, bitter, too loose, & liberall speaches, agaynst the most Noble, Worthie, and Transcendant Sexe of WOMEN, (which some, knowing their own imperfect weaknesse, may apprehend to be Calumnies, and detractiue to the whole Sexe) I here make humble Oblation….
—Edward Raban, The Glorie of Man Consisting in the Excellence and Perfection of Woman, 1638

And if you were hoping that there is a word for a sarcastic person, you’re in luck: it’s sarcast.

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