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Bigly, Hugely, and other 21st Century American Vocabulary Sensations

The creation and use of new words in new ways is becoming a common practice

Throughout today’s United States mainstream media, it is not uncommon to hear vocabulary that sounds both new and unusual. The words being used will not be found in a dictionary and nor currently be taught in school. The meaning may be clear as glass, the pronunciation might be easy as pie, and the intended audience may be shaking their heads in agreement in terms of being in tune with the language in use. But words are being used that technically are not... words.

The creation and use of new words in new ways is becoming a common practice at the highest level in America, as President Donald Trump leads the march in coining new and improved lingo. His two most prominent examples – bigly and hugely – are terms that he managed to incorporate into stump speeches and campaign presentations, plus he adds them into routine White House communications today.

The terms – big and huge – are both common English adjectives. By adding a suffix to their ends, President Trump altered their purpose and created two new adverbs. Oddly enough, these new terms seem to work in the context in which they are offered. And with each passing day, the use of these new words – by everybody – is growing.

English language purists are shouting their disapproval. Their mantra is that these words aren’t real. They are fake and shouldn’t be used. Their condemnation is even more emphatic because the President of the United States is the biggest of all fake-language culprits. It is an abomination to real linguists.

Technically, they are correct. In the most formal sense, the term is big, not bigly and huge, not hugely. But every day Americans seem to understand the new terms, seem to like the new terms, and are beginning to use them as well.

These two words have shed a bright light on the way any language – in particular the English language – is expanded. Someone creates a new word (think google, smarmy, fleek), begins to use it and spreads that use at the grassroots, social media level. The American public grab ahold of it, and voilà, a new word is formed.

At one point, each and every word used in any language was new. Someone somewhere put together letters and sounds and connected them with some type of meaning and origin. Eventually, people catch onto the word and it becomes mainstream. Whether a president or peasant tosses out a new word, there is something that is bigly interesting about the word origin process.

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