The dictionary that’s one of Trump’s funniest fact checkers
(CNN) – The Merriam-Webster dictionary has gone from being a dusty, unread book to one of the Trump-era’s cheekiest fact-checkers.
Webster’s Twitter handle has become a hotspot of sassy responses to some of the Trump team’s more eyebrow-raising statements, like Kellyanne Conway coining of the term “alternative facts” on Sunday.
To the cheers of many anti-Trump users, Webster’s responded: “In contemporary use, fact is understood to refer to something with actual existence.”
Merriam-Webster lexicographer (noun: dictionary editor) Kory Stamper told CNNMoney that the company’s Twitter feed has personality — and it comes from the people who work there.
“I can tell you that that persona is entirely our social media manager, Lauren Naturale,” Stamper said, but it reflects “the natural voice of how we talk to each other in the office. It’s the jokes we make to each other.”
That becomes more obvious when you look at Stamper’s own Twitter feed, which has a few Trump-targeted one-liners.
Among the official handle’s more cheeky comments include tweeting the definition of “claqueur” — or people paid to applaud — after Trump’s visit to the CIA prompted some to speculate whether Trump brought supporters along to applaud. (CNN has determined that it was CIA officers applauding.)
It’s also pointed out that searches for “misogyny” spiked after election night, and the dictionary was called on to clear up the meaning of Trump’s frequently used term “big league.”
Despite applause from those who oppose Trump for some of Webster’s nervy remarks, Stamper said Webster’s is an objective reference book.
She said the ushering in of the Trump era has coincided with a great deal of searches to define seemingly obvious words. After Conway uttered her “alternative facts” phrase, for example, there was a massive surge in searches for the word “fact” on Webster’s website.
“And a lot of the people who looked up the word fact, particularly who left comments or wrote to our office, wanted to make sure we weren’t going to change the definition,” she said.
“We’re not going to change the meaning of the word ‘fact’ just because of the way one person uses it,” she added. “We’re trained to pull words out of a jar and just tell the truth about what they mean. So we’ll keep doing what we do.”