If you’ve ever taken an English course at NYU (or anywhere, I’m guessing), then you’ve probably heard teachers say the phrase, “the dictionary is your best friend!”
As an English major, I have heard this many, many times, from almost every English teacher I’ve ever had. Last semester, I even had a teacher take out a gigantic Merriam-Webster dictionary and pass it around the room so that we could “feel it in our hands” and “really experience it.” This semester, in the first week of classes alone, I have already had two professors and one TA proclaim their adoration of the Oxford English Dictionary in long, passionate speeches. Generally students will nod a little bit or laugh, while silently resolving to continue using dictionary.com when necessary. I am usually one of those people.
However, this past weekend, the dictionary truly was my best friend. I now know of its greatness and magic firsthand.
I was having a wild Friday night—sitting at my desk at 2am, eating some cheese and crackers, the usual. I was trying to figure out what to do, and I remembered the loving Oxford English Dictionary rant that my TA had gone on earlier that day in recitation. So, I decided to try it out. I pulled up the website and typed “Trump” in the search bar. Six entries came up— three nouns and three verbs. Among these, I was pleased to find that the initial definitions included “a thing of small value,” and “to deceive, cheat.” However, I continued on and clicked the first noun entry on the list. There, the fifth definition down, I saw this:
e. slang or vulgar. The act of breaking wind audibly.
1903 in J.S. Farmer & W.E. Henley Slang
It’s just…so beautiful. Then I clicked on the first verb entry, which was equally as rewarding:
b. To give forth a trumpet-like sound; spec. to break wind audibly (slang or vulgar).
Basically, “Trump” is old British slang for farts (!!!). Here are some of my favorite excerpts from the literature provided:
“Trump or let a crackke, or fart” —From R. Huloet Abcedarium Anglico Latinum (1552)
“She who does Trump, through defect in her rump.” —From T. D’Urfey Wit & Mirth I. 35 (1719)
Did anyone know about this? I sure didn’t. I was craving more evidence (as the OED only includes a few different quotes), so I went back to the first entry, which is from a book of slang from 1903. After a few minutes of online searching I found a photocopied version of the entire book on Google Books (Slang and its Analogues, Past and Present by J. S. Farmer and W. E. Henley)— And there it was, in volume seven:
“to which her bum played double-bass and made such thundering as she Trump’d, both Ajax and Achilles jumped.”
Basically, the woman in this example was Trumping SO HARD that even some of the most powerful greek warriors EVER were freaked out. If that isn’t a perfect metaphor, I honestly don’t know what is.
Just look how perturbed they are.
I think that there are many lessons to be learned from this. First, listen to your teachers, because they really do have some fantastic wisdom to impart. Second, endless amounts of joy and happiness can come from using a dictionary. And third, Trump is a fart hahahahah.