Kim Jong Un taught the world a new word

Kim Jong Un called President Trump a "dotard."
September 22, 2017, 11:00am

D-O-T-A-R-D. Dotard. The internet learned a new word Thursday night.

To use it in a sentence: “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

That’s what Kim Jong Un, the reclusive and combative North Korean leader, called Donald Trump after the U.S. president’s fiery speech at the United Nations on Tuesday. In the speech — which North Korea’s foreign minister likened to a “barking dog” — Trump said he might have to “totally destroy North Korea.”


According to Merriam-Webster, Kim’s obscure insult means “a person in his or her dotage,” which is a “state of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness.” When it was first used, however, it meant something closer to imbecile.

Google searches for the word were through the roof on Friday morning — and Merriam-Webster, the social-media-savvy dictionary, also tweeted that searches for the word had skyrocketed.

The internet even admitted to not knowing what the word meant.

As it turns out, Kim didn’t actually say the word “dotard”— it’s the translation provided by the North Korean Central News Agency. The agency interpreted Kim’s mention of “neukdari” — which translates literally as “old lunatic” — to mean “dotard” in English, according to the Independent.

The medieval insult is pretty high-brow for the spat between the two leaders, which has so far been characterized by low blows and jingoistic threats. Chaucer used the word; so did Shakespeare. But to most contemporary English speakers, the word isn’t familiar — or it wasn’t, until Kim used it.

In a tweet Friday morning, however, Trump, stuck to standard name-calling.

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