Trend Watch

Trump: They Wanted Me to 'Excoriate' Putin

Lookups rise over 2800% after tweet


Lookups for excoriate spiked on March 21, 2018, after President Trump used the word in a tweet:

alt-5ab2bd77ec508
Photo: Kremlin.ru

The "criticize harshly" sense of 'excoriate' is a figurative extension of its earlier use, which related to flaying and abrading skin.

Trump’s call to congratulate Putin was widely criticized even before it was revealed that he had been briefed with the words “DO NOT CONGRATULATE” beforehand, renewing attention to the story and introducing the detail that an apparent leak had come from the White House.

Excoriate means “to criticize (someone or something) very harshly” or “to censure scathingly,” but this meaning is relatively recent in English compared to the original use of the word, which was “to strip or wear off the skin of,” a synonym of flay and abrade. It was often used in reference to agonizing punishment and comes from a Latin word made up of ex- meaning “out of” or “outside” and corium meaning “skin” or “hide.”

Its figurative use retains the idea of a harsh and biting criticism derived from the idea of an act of painful torture.



Comments

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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