The most used terms during US elections


US presidential elections are scheduled for today, Tuesday 8th November 2016. For this reason we have been taking a look what were the most common terms used by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the last debates, TV shows and on-line messages and we have found an interesting list of words that we want to share with you.


We have been already interested on this topic as we think US elections are a very engaging argument for language lovers. This is why last week we have proposed you hard money for the section IATE Term of the week. This time, we want to focus on the most used terms which are:

  • Braggadocious: The English Oxford Dictionary defines it as Boastful or arrogant while the Urban Dictionary say that it is A big braggart usually with a small deficience. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the term as The annoying or exaggerated talk of someone who is trying to sound very proud or brave. This same dictionary said that “braggadocious” is a dialectical word from 19th-century America to mean arrogant. What a pity that is so seldom used in 21st-century English and it does not have even its own entry in the dictionary.

This term was the most-searched one on the website during one of the evening debates between Hillary and Donald. Mr. Trump said he did not mean to sound “braggadocious” when discussing his wealth and business dealings, this was the context he has used.

  • Birtherism: This isn’t a word by dictionary standards, but it refers to the long-debunked conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. It was invented by Ms. Clinton and her campaign in 2008 and it seems it is still used.
  • Cyberwarfare: There is no legal definition of the term. As a term can be used a handy shorthand for the law of war as applied to cyber operations in general, provided that actual explanation is accurate according to current authoritative precepts. A more precise discussion of law of war as applied to cyber operations will provide a more structured underpinning for public debate, and one that does not obfuscate important details. Focusing on currently developing guidance on the law of war as applied to civilian participation in cyber operations may also bring more precision to the “cyberwar” table by personalizing the topic following Lisa Brownlee explanations. As a curiosity, Mr. Trump used the term “cyber” as a noun, which, the dictionary says, is frowned upon as it is an adjective which means of, relating to, or involving computers or computer networks.
  • Temperament: an individual’s character, disposition, and tendencies as revealed in his reactions as it is defined by Collins Dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines it as the usual attitude, mood, or behavior of a person or animal. But in both cases we can find also more than just one definition for this term so it can be used with another meaning, just take a look and decide which one was the one used by Donald.



Do you know any other interesting terms used in the presidential campaign? We are looking forward to get your suggestions, so please feel free to contribute!

Written by Olga Jeczmyk: Translator-Interpreter, Social Media and Content Manager as well as Communication and Terminology Trainee. Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg.


  • BBC (2016) US election glossary: A-Z guide to political jargon. Available at: (Accessed: 3 November 2016).
  • Brownlee, L. (2015) Why ‘Cyberwar’ is so hard to define. Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  • Merriam-Webster (2016) Trending: Trump: ‘I wrote the art of the deal. I say not in A Braggadocious way.’ Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  • Mortimer, C. (2016) US elections: Who is ahead in the polls? Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  • Nolte, J. (2016) Hillary invented Birtherism: 11 things the media won’t tell you. Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  • Reilly, K. (2016) People want to know what ‘Braggadocious’ means thanks to Donald Trump. Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).
  • Zaslove, M. (2016) If the United States has a female president, will her husband be called the first gentleman? What will Bill Clinton be called if Hillary is elected? Available at: (Accessed: 7 November 2016).