The meaning of “Covfefe”

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 1.22.00 PMYesterday, a friend wished me a “Happy Covfefe Day”.

Initially, I wondered if “covfefe” was a foreign word or an acronym that I simply didn’t know. Occasionally, someone will ask me the meaning of an archaic or specialized word, but if I don’t know it, they see it as a “Gotcha!” Such is the lot of the linguist. Estimates suggest that there are over 1 million words in the English language, but not even a linguist could possibly know them all.

Then I discovered the word “covfefe” was coined by none other than President Donald Trump at 12:06 am on Wednesday, May 31.

Well, he didn’t really coin a word. True coins are rare, and this was clearly a typo.

The context was the following tweet on Twitter:

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe.”

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About five hours later the tweet in question was deleted and replaced with:

“Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!”

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This tweet has led to much humor and has created many new memes. But this is no great linguistic mystery. Some suggest that Trump meant to type “coffee” or that he was using a foreign word or code, but from the context we can assume that Trump probably meant “coverage”.

Does this typo mean anything in the greater scheme of things?

CNN posits that “Covfefe” tells you all you need go know about Donald Trump while The Atlantic states that the White House press secretary turned “covfefe” into a covfspiracy.

“Covfefe” was not an error, as such. It was more of a mistake, that is, Trump probably knew what word he meant to type. Some may argue that the President of the United States should be held to a higher standard of spelling, while others think that such a mistake reflects intelligence.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of lambasting someone for making a typo. We all make them. But not all of us make them so publicly – in front of a critical world that is watching. (Perhaps it’s time to hire a proofreader?)

But for some, this isn’t so much an issue about making a mistake as it is about the administration’s inability to admit these mistakes.

Whatever way you want to look at it, Covfefe-gate is ducking funny…








Posted in: Uncategorized
Karen Stollznow

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Stollznow is a linguist with a background in history and anthropology, and is the author of the best-selling book God Bless America. Her other titles include Hits & Mrs., Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic and Haunting America. Her forthcoming books include Missed Conceptions and Not What The Doctor Ordered.

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