Trend Watch

Trump's Speech Described as 'Dystopian'

Lookups for 'dystopia' spiked 2000% after Trump's bleak convention speech

Donald Trump’s acceptance speech at the GOP Convention caused lookups for dystopia and dystopian to increase by 2000%. The speech painted a bleak picture of the state of the nation and the world and lacked the optimism that conventional wisdom associates with successful presidential campaigns.

In his recap of the speech, Seth Myers summarized: “We are currently living in a dystopian nightmare.”

Dystopia means "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives." The word itself is based on utopia, a word that in Greek literally translates as "no place"—since its perfection is unattainable. Dystopia translates literally as "bad place."

Here’s an example of its use in a typical commentary:

For four nights, convention speakers portrayed the U.S. as a grim dystopia: impoverished and ridden with violence.
—Melanie Mason, The Washington Post, 22 July 2016

The adjective dystopian was used even more frequently:

Mr. Trump gave a grim, angry acceptance speech to close a grim, angry convention, casting America as a dystopian hellscape and himself as the only leader capable of saving it from murder, terrorism, financial ruin, and an uncontrolled wave of immigrants.
—James Poniewozik, The New York Times, 22 July 2016

He stoked fears by painting a dark, dystopian image of a country overwhelmed by violent crime and under siege by illegal immigrants.
—Editorial Board,, 21 July 2016

The term dystopic is beginning to be used as a synonym of dystopian, but until recently had been used only in medical contexts to mean “relating to the malposition of an anatomical part.” Our citation files indicate that dystopic is being used increasingly in this way.

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

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