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Alan Rappeport, "From the Right, a New Slur for G.O.P. Candidates", NYT 8/13/2015:

As Republican presidential candidates offered careful answers to questions about education, immigration and foreign policy at last week’s debate, streams of tweets panned their responses as too soft or disingenuous. Senator Marco Rubio is beholden to corporate interests, one said. Former Gov. Jeb Bush is weak on immigration, crowed another. Many of them were adorned with a cryptic hashtag bearing a new word: “cuckservative.”

Yesterday, Alan Rappeport wrote to me to ask "how and why such language gets popular".

A lightly-edited version of what I wrote back to him:

With respect to the history of that word in particular, I don't have much to add to what you can get from reading Joan Walsh ("The GOP crack-up continues: The raging civil war over the disgusting “cuckservative” slur", Salon 8/2/2015), Milo Yiannopoulos ("‘Cuckservative' is a gloriously effective insult that should not be slurred, demonised, or ridiculed", Breitbart 7/28/2015), and others.

More abstractly, cuckservative is what Lewis Carroll called a portmanteau word, which linguists these days more commonly call a "blend". There are common-sense reasons why such coinages might succeed or fail: the popularity and authority of the inventor and early adopters; the relevance of the referent; the "wordiness" of the coinage; …

"Cuckservative" has some advantages on all three dimensions. According to that  7/28 Breitbart piece (perhaps a questionable source), the process  apparently started with the use of cuck, short for "cuckold", as a term for a genre of pornography in which men watch their wives having sex with other men. It was extended figuratively on 4chan to reference "relinquished manliness" and more abstractly "selling out, abandoning principles".

Since con, abbreviating conservative, has at least some limited usage (as in "crunchy con"), it's a natural and effective step to substitute cuck- for con- to form cuckservative, meaning "a conservative who lacks the courage of his convictions".

Apparently this coinage spread originally on white nationalist websites, and has a racial and sexual vibe without being overtly racist or obscene;  the outraged reaction to it has paradoxically helped to spread it; and there are apparently many people who feel the sexually and racially charged contempt that it expresses, and want to express and share that contempt.


I haven't checked that origin story, and so you'd be wise to take it with a grain or two of salt pending some lexicographic research that I don't have time for today.

I wasn't able to offer Mr. Rappeport much additional help in figuring out why certain words of this kind become fashionable, while others don't. I did point out the following:

Since lib is a common clipping for liberal, you might think that the same move would work to produce "cuckeral" as an insult for excessively moderate liberals. But even leaving out content-related problems, this doesn't work as a blend. It lacks the shared initial /k/ sound, and more important, the residual -eral lacks enough of a connection back to the original work, unlike servative.

Compare the widely-used insult "lieberal", blending lie and liberal.

And in response to his further query "Do you find this term to be more clever or unusual or offensive than other political insults? Trying to get a better sense of its growing appeal", I observed that

I mostly see complaints about it, or other meta-discussion, rather than real examples of use.

This might be a reflection of my choices of reading material, but I don't think so.

Among the first 30 google hits, I only see one that's "use" rather than "mention", and it's marginal.

And on the first three pages of Google News hits, I see just three examples of actual use — here , here ( in a comment: "Wow, that was some really hard hitting “Gotcha journalism” from another cuckservative trying to…), and here (in an apparently ironic reference to"the leading publication of cuckservative thought, the National Review")

My impression is that if it weren't for all the people complaining and expressing outrage, it would have remained an occasional usage in a marginal subculture.


  1. r said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

    "Conservacuck" and "Libcuck" are parallel usages coming out of 8chan, and to a lesser extent 4chan, the cradle of the current "cuck" meme. For some reason, it was the variant form "cuckservative" that went mainstream – perhaps it's easier to parse for the reasons you listed in your post?

  2. Robert Coren said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

    It's interesting that some people seem to be reacting to this coinage as if it were an obscenity. My guess is that they're reacting to the suggestion of both cock and either suck or fuck.

    At first sight, I thought the origin might have something to do with cuckoo, but apparently not.

  3. naddy said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 3:18 pm

    @Robert Coren:
    The words are closely related. From etymonline.com:
    "cuckoo" < Old French "cocu" (cuckoo, cuckold)
    "cuckold" < Old French "cucuault", from "cocu" and pejorative suffix "-ault"

  4. Steve said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    Well, cuckold and cuckoo are etymologically related, so in a sense you were on to something…

  5. Rubrick said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 4:19 pm

    "Compare the widely-used insult "lieberal", blending lie and liberal."

    Huh. I hadn't heard that one, and on reading "lieberal" my immediate thought was that it would be a term for a democrat who was overly hawkish or a blind supporter of Israel, a la Joe Lieberman.

  6. chedolf said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

    "At first sight, I thought the origin might have something to do with cuckoo, but apparently not."

    They are related in the sense that cuckold derives its meaning from cuckoo.


  7. Chris C. said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 5:04 pm

    I'm pretty sure "cuckold" comes from the cuckoo's behavior of leaving its eggs behind in someone else's nest.

  8. tunglet said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 6:57 pm

    "I mostly see complaints about it, or other meta-discussion, rather than real examples of use."

    You need to do time based searches, like last week, or else the static websites popular among the masses will show up. The websites where cuck and cuckservative is used the most, are dynamic and user driven imageboards, so each page gets a low google rank.

    People into net culture know that if a meme becomes popular on all the boards, it will go mainstream, so the old media is probably just trying to give their spin on an insult they know will become popular, even if the cuck meme came from /pol/.

    It's not cuckservative that is used or important, but what is called the cuck meme. Once you learn about how the cuckoo tricks others to work against their own interest, and you know politics is at least partly about this, calling these people cucks, is not that big of a step.

    It was the SJW that like to insult the racists on /pol/, by spamming the boards with interracial cuck porn, that forced /pol/ to learn about how disgusting it was.

    Nobody had taught /pol/ this was disgusting, or told /pol/ that the willing cucks were very sick people, so if human sexuality was socially constructed like the good and enlightened claim, /pol/ shouldn't have felt it disgusting, and the SJW would not have understood that interracial cuck porn is more humiliating than normal interracial porn, for the race that is cucked.

    The users on /pol/ don't have media-power to create narratives that makes the masses able to shout down the enemy, by using hate words like racist, fascist, anti-Semite or white supremacists.

    They did however have the knowledge to recognize cuck as a potential nature based hate word, and by focusing on cuckoldry as a biological concept, and extend cuckoldry to include cucking groups, they could justify using cuck in the meaning white anti-white.

    It looks to me, that ones with political or financial power, don't want the population to think too much on cuckolds and cuckoldry, since the word gives the sheeple a mental tool to recognize and speak about the human Judas goats, that the fleecing of the population go a lot easier.

    Anyway, I have never really liked how the progressives change the language to make some thing harder to talk about, or change how we feel on something, so it was fun to take part in reintroducing cuck into the English language, since you could weaponize cuck by piggybacking the inborn disgust and shame over cuckoldry men feel. There were no competition, so by calling other posters for cucks, if they fit the pro-white bill for being cucks, you settled the definition of the word, without ever giving a definition.

    Not just one time either, but over and over and over again, as a verb, adjective or substantive, until the /pol/lacks had learnt to use cuck the same way. The only real opposition came from /pol/lacks that thought the cuck-meme shameful, but as we carefully explained: We can at least protest the cuckery we experience, but the progressive share the same psychology as us, so they hate it just as much, but they have to put up a brave face, and pretend to be non-offended or not to understand.

    Good strategy with normal words, but not with cuck, since not understanding or not being bothered by cuckery, only make the cuck more pathetic and ridiculous.

    PS I'm not American, and I don't think the other early cuckposters were either, but it surly was Americans that made it mainstream, by insulting the far right, but left of /pol/, for being cuckservatives. No buy, since it didn't really fit, but they bought the insult, as they noticed the defenders of cuckoldry were cleaned out in the comment sections, as respect for the cuckold, is impossible for the monkey brain we humans have.

  9. chris said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 7:28 pm

    It's interesting that some people seem to be reacting to this coinage as if it were an obscenity. My guess is that they're reacting to the suggestion of both cock and either suck or fuck.

    Possibly, but the actual meaning of "cuckold" (either the original presumed-unaware kind, or the allegedly new voyeuristic variant) is quite sexually charged all on its own, too.

    How *racially* charged it is may be up for debate, I see no reason why any combination of races couldn't play out the exact same fetish; but the sexual implication of women as possessions and demasculinizing any man who doesn't assert adequate control over them is pretty much built right into the word.

  10. Steve Morrison said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 7:39 pm

    I, on the other hand, thought of "cucking", as in cucking stool.

  11. Christopher Henrich said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 8:45 pm

    I suppose that a violent opponent of cuckservatives would be a cucksocker.

  12. Jason said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 8:56 pm

    There was a recent article on nymag.com by Michael Sonmore called "What an open marriage told one man about feminism" which became fairly notorious in conservative circles for what it claimed to say about the direction feminism wanted to take masculinity — the author did seem to be profoundly messed up and associated "open marriage" with him being cuckolded night after night with him looking after the kids while his wife selfishly had one night stands with strange men:

    "As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist."

    The "cuck" fetish in understanding isn't about /voyeurism/ — watching your wife have sex with another man — but about /humiliation/ — having your wife go off with a strange man and tell you how hot it was afterwards. It may even involve fetishising her telling you how worthless and inadequate you are by comparison with the man she just had sex with.

    By extension, a "cuckservative" likes the humiliation of caving to the left wing on some core issue. He's doesn't have the masculinity to stand up for himself and declare some provocative behaviour by his "wife" (the left wing of politics) to be unacceptable.

  13. Tora-chan said,

    August 13, 2015 @ 11:13 pm

    I don't know how representative this sample is, but it seems that the term is popular with racists and lends itself nicely to anti-immigrant, anti-POC sentiments.

  14. Jerry Friedman said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 9:40 am

    This all reminds me of the Spanish word cabrón, which can mean 'cuckold' and is used as an all-purpose obscene insult (among other things).

    I may not be the only one who didn't know that /pol/ is the political discussion forum on 4chan, known for extreme and often racist right-wing participants, and "SJW" stands for "social-justice warrior", a term those right-wingers use for their opponents, both according to Wikipedia.

    Jason: I wonder whether you're generalizing too much from one example or a few. Maybe for some cuckolds it is about voyeurism instead of or as well as humiliation. Maybe it's about other things too. In the words of Samuel R. Delany, who should know, "What is forbidden is eroticized." And maybe some people who say they're cuckolds are actually among those who enjoy their fantasies by talking or writing about them as if they really happened.

  15. Robert Coren said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 10:13 am

    Well, I guess I knew about the etymological relationship between "cuckold" and "cuckoo", but I was thinking more of the modern sense of "cuckoo" = "crazy".

    @Christopher Henrich: Nice coinage.

  16. Rube said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 10:50 am

    @Jerry Friedman:

    Thanks for the explanation of "SJW". I didn't know what it meant, and had a feeling that Googling would lead me to some dark places.

  17. J. W. Brewer said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 12:45 pm

    It was nice that the NYT piece backed up its one quantified claim (usage peaked at over 5,000 times in one day on twitter) with an actual link: http://topsy.com/analytics?q1=cuckservative&q2=%23cuckservative&q3=%23cuckservative%20%2B%20Trump&via=Topsy

    I'm not particularly familiar with social-media-analytics sites like Topsy so I don't know whether it's easy or hard to get a more fine-grained analysis of how many people are using it (5,000 uses could be less than 5,000 users, perhaps only 100 particularly vituperative users spitting out 50 tweets each, although more likely an aggregate of some people using once and others multiple times). More importantly, I don't have any context to put the number in. Just how frequently are "high-profile" hashtages used on twitter? Are these figures (almost 50,000 uses in a one-month period, with over 5,000 on the peak day) suggestive of real popularity or are there plenty of obscure hashtags whose meaning is understood only within a fairly marginal subculture that would run up similar numbers? The one benchmark I have is a plausible-seeming stat that twitter has 500 million tweets on a particular day (so around 15 billion over a typical one-month stretch, and of course it's possible for a single tweet to contain multiple hashtags), but that doesn't get me very far.

  18. J. W. Brewer said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    FWIW, I think I have seen "SJW" used more by people who self-identify as left-of-center as a pejorative for farther-to-the-left activists whose tactics are viewed (by those using it as a pejorative) as too extreme or counterproductive (in particular too eager to attack their own potential allies for being insufficiently pure and rigorous, which obviously is a phenomenon not limited to the left, although this pejorative seems to focus only on the left-wing manifestation), although I've also seen right-of-center uses. I don't know who borrowed it from whom – perhaps that's the sort of inquiry that Big Data now makes possible. And of course etymology is not destiny – I'm fairly sure "political correctness" and "politically correct" as pejoratives originally emerged 30+ years ago in the context of intra-left polemic but then migrated rightwards in popularity.

  19. Milan said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

    While their seems to be no reason, why the cuckold fetish couldn't be enacted with all combination of races, the configuration of the "married couple" being white while the second male is black seems to be very common. The Wikipedia article claims this. (And even cites a source. However, the source does not seem to actually support the claim) Also, the first result page on a big online pornography platform for the search term "cuck" features 13 entries with that scenario, and 14 with an all white set-up, judging from the thumbnails. That's a far higher rate of black actors, then the over-all average, and the black actor always appears in the same role, so that this is certainly no coincidence.

  20. tunglet said,

    August 14, 2015 @ 8:53 pm

    "This all reminds me of the Spanish word cabrón, which can mean 'cuckold' and is used as an all-purpose obscene insult (among other things)."

    It's not accidental, but changing the word from one based on the cuckoo, to one based on horns and goats, is reflected in many European languages. I would not be surprised if the change was driven by some change in theology.

    /pol/ is international, and many European languages had cuckoo-words left that were used as an insult, so this might be one reason the word went viral so quick.

    @J. W. Brewer

    /pol/ popularized/made social justice warrior as well.

    /pol/lacks and the alt-right to only get problems if they signal their power-level to friends and employers, so 5000 on twitter, normally means quite a buzz. For the progressives it is the opposite, missing symbolic signalling on twitter, might easily be seen as you don't care and are a bad person, so they tweet a lot.

    I have monitored how the cuck meme have been spread, and there is really no reason for the cuckstream media to have written about it yet. It's the kind of signal boost I would not have expected, and I can't decide if it is progressives being stupid, or if we get help from the deep state.

    It would not be the first time progressives cuck themselves, but it will be the worst, if they continue to joke about cuckold porn, and the sexfixated racists that is offended by it.

    Progressives are supposed to see nothing wrong in the cuckoldry lifestyle, as open minded people are supposed to make jokes about the reactionaries that take offence.
    Women are evolved to cuck men from time to time, so for them, the thought does not feel repulsive. Males are evolved to not get cucked, so they are all revolted by the idea.

    If the progressives in power keep on purging the unfaithful to the "everything is socially constructed" dogma, while they insist it's something wrong with conservatives sexually, because they get upset by cuckoldry, they will end up purging their white male footsoldiers.

    It's too humiliating for any man, to argue that gender roles or race are socially constructed, when you are asked if you would borrow out your wife to other men, and bring up their children of your own, because fatherhood and family are socially constructed?

    Some are stupid enough to counter on interracial cuck porn being so big, only to get hit by the dirty secret that it is non-whites that like interracial cuck whitey porn, and that the cuck lifestyle subculture don't really exists, since it's all porn, hookers and trolls. There might be some psychopath woman terrorizing her husband into the porn cuck role in real life, because it turn her on, but this is mental abuse, meant to hurt the partner.

    When the Ukraine crisis hit, /pol/ became a battle ground for alphabet agency shills in the propaganda war. /pol/ is pro-white, but in the political correct world that is Nazi, so NATO shills were surprised when the /pol/ nationalists did not support the Ukraine nationalists, nor their own countries. /pol/ rather charged anybody that supported the multikult(the west) for being a cuck and a traitor to his people, as that would leave nobody opposing the genocide by immigration white countries suffer from today.

    /pol/ even charged the shills for being cucks, since they did not understand that no white man is willing to die for a cucktry, so their children can be a hated minority. White soldiers might not feel this way today, because the media the soldiers and their families consume don't talk about it as a bad thing, but if they think they will become a hated minority, because Russia makes white genocide into a battlefield in the propaganda part of the new cold war.

    Russian shills were called cucks as well, because the oh so subversive and professional Russians shills did not focus on white genocide as a way to discredit the west, but rehashed the old commie stuff about fascism and exploitation.

    Russia Today have had it's first white genocide article on London going non-whites, and the Russian shills on /pol/ are also talking about whites being genocided by cuckoldry cuckolded to death where getting non-whites to hate whites is part of the deal,

    If NATO have finally understood, that you can't expect a future white minority to stay loyal even today, if they are convinced they are targeted for genocide, signal boosting messages that help kill the multikult, is the far cheapest way to help solve the problem.

  21. Robert Coren said,

    August 15, 2015 @ 9:42 am

    @J. W. Brewer re "political correctness": My recollection, which I admit may not be accurate, is that it first emerged (more like 45+ years ago) as a serious claim on the left, i.e., people and or statements that were insufficiently "pure" were sincerely decried as "politically incorrect". Ironic usage followed in fairly short order (I vaguely recall a personal ad in the Gay Community News in which the writer characterized herself as "sooo PC"), and pretty much drove out the non-ironic usage before long.

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