Malapropism of the week

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Jessica Taylor & Danielle Kurtzleben, "This week in Trump's 'Alternative Facts'", NPR 1/29/2017

Less than 24 hours after White House press secretary had spouted numerous falsehoods about inauguration crowd size and more, Kellyanne Conway went on NBC's "Meet the Press" to defend him. In the process, the counselor to President Donald Trump coined a phrase that's now deigned to follow Trump throughout his presidency — "alternative facts."

I imagine that they meant "destined", not "deigned".

And this is probably a "Fay-Cutler malapropism", though it's possible that the writer(s) did genuinely mislearn or misremember the meaning of deign.

Obligatory screenshot:


  1. Theophylact said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 8:17 pm

    No, probably they meant "designed", and a typo omitted the "s".

  2. Theophylact said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 8:18 pm

    (Come to think of it, that doesn't make much sense.)

  3. mark dowson said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 9:04 pm

    "fated" may have been intended. Hard to see how "deigned" (or even "designed") is a malapropism or typo for that

  4. Malapropism of the week • Zhi Chinese said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 9:13 pm

    […] Source: Language Malapropism of the week […]

  5. Chris Waigl said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 9:16 pm

    Doomed? Ordained?

  6. John Shutt said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 9:48 pm

    Cupertino from a typo on "destined"?

  7. djbcjk said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 10:19 pm

    I agree with Chris Weigl; its probably a misremembering of 'ordained.' Or John Shutt's 'de(st)ined.'

    Good to see that Trumpf prefers 'alternative' over the now-universal malapropism of 'alternate.'

  8. empty said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 11:15 pm

    corrected to "destined":

  9. Lance Nathan said,

    January 30, 2017 @ 11:43 pm

    It could be a Fay-Cutler, but it also seems possible that it's a Cupertino.

  10. Guy said,

    January 31, 2017 @ 12:18 am

    A Cupertino is much more likely than a true malapropism, it seems to me.

  11. ajay said,

    January 31, 2017 @ 4:57 am

    No, no. Following Trump throughout his career is a terribly demeaning fate for any English phrase, but "alternative facts" has now very kindly deigned to do so.

  12. AntC said,

    January 31, 2017 @ 5:49 am

    @ajay you've nailed it!

    And in due course, "alternative facts" will deign to be spelled "lies".

  13. maidhc said,

    January 31, 2017 @ 1:23 pm

    My guess is that it was "destigned" which was then auto-corrected.

  14. JPL said,

    January 31, 2017 @ 6:04 pm

    When I heard the phrase "alternative facts" used to refer to lies, it immediately reminded me of Private Eye's classic "Ugandan discussions", as in "The minister invited her up to his room for Ugandan discussions." It lends itself to similar possibilities for satirical substitution.

  15. richardelguru said,

    February 1, 2017 @ 7:23 am


    I'm afraid your comment left me tired and emotional…

  16. Rod Johnson said,

    February 1, 2017 @ 9:48 am

    "Robert" above appears to be a spam bot.

    [(myl) Agreed. Now consigned (coigned?) to Spam Limbo.]

  17. Jonathan said,

    February 1, 2017 @ 11:12 am

    Interesting, because instead of "destined" I would have guessed "deemed."

  18. chris said,

    February 1, 2017 @ 11:05 pm

    "Alternative facts" sounds like the kind of phrase Stephen Colbert wishes he had thought of. I wonder if he regrets his retirement?

  19. Gabe Burns said,

    February 2, 2017 @ 10:01 am

    @chris "Retirement" is a strange word for hosting The Late Show. I don't recall specifically, but I'm pretty sure Stephen's had some fun with "alternative facts" already.

  20. Michael Stoler said,

    February 5, 2017 @ 6:12 pm

    I've seen "deign" misused more deliberately, e.g., Clarence Thomas's famous quote at his confirmation hearing: " is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves," or John McWhorter, "When I think of Wilson, I always think of him…evicting black leaders from the Oval Office for deigning to express their grievances uncompromisingly." (Wall Street Journal, 28 Nov 2015: C.1) Confusing deign with dare?

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