The headline read: “Trump’s budget to include draconian cuts in major area.”
I hate click bait headlines. They make me feel manipulated. In this case, I simply refused to click through for the answer to the obvious question: “Is there an actual word that derives from Draco Malfoy, the sinister Hogwarts student of the Harry Potter books and, if so, why isn’t it ‘malfoyian’?”
So I looked it up. It turns out the word predates J.K. Rowling by more than a millennium. “Of or relating to Draco,” says Dictionary.com, “7th-century Athenian statesman and lawmaker, or his code of laws, which prescribed death for almost every offense.”*
This may explain both the low crime rate in ancient Greece and the declining population.
I looked up Draco (the Greek, not the Slytherin) on Wikipedia. Evidently, he didn’t have a second name, like the hip hop star Drake, who (and I’m just guessing here) probably did not name himself after either Draco. Wikipedia informed me that: “Draco was the first democratic legislator, inasmuch as he was requested by the Athenian citizens to be a lawgiver for the city-state, but the citizens were fully unaware that Draco would establish harsh laws.”
In other words, not only is Trump’s budget draconian, but Trump himself is someone draconian, inasmuch as the citizens who put him in power were fully unaware of what they were going to get.
It got me to thinking, though, about why we don’t have words that come from more modern people. You’ve got Draco from the 7th Century, and we call a schemer “machiavellian” after a 15th century Italian historian. If you’re a chauvinist you take after an 18th century French guy named Nicholas Chauvin, and if you’re a masochist you can thank Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the 19th century writer who wrote Venus in Furs, but who had nothing to do with the much more satisfying Sacher torte.
It’s difficult to think of a word that comes from a 20th or 21st Century person. I’m not talking about an invention or discovery that is named after it’s creator, like the Uzi (Major Uziel Gal) or the jacuzzi (Candido Jacuzzi), or the jacuzzi uzi, a fast-firing water gun that I just made up. I’m talking about words that describe a trait of the person they’re derived from.
Politicians often accuse opponents of McCarthyism, but you never hear an action described as “mccarthyist” with a lower case “m,” which would indicate that it is has become an actual word rather than simply a reference to a machiavellian senator from the 1950’s. You would think that “hitlerian” might be a word by now, but maybe it hasn’t because no one has since reached the level of pure evil that would merit being called that. I thought I had an example for a moment, but then it turned out that the word “ruthless” does not come from the state of the Boston Red Sox after they sold the Babe.
But I think “trumpian” has a good shot at becoming a word. I think it could mean “completely inappropriate,” as in “he took a trumpian glance at his daughter’s bosom.” Or maybe it could mean “uninformed,” as in “he made a trumpian statement about global warming as he waded through downtown Miami.”
Or it could mean just plain “stupid,” as in “When he arrived in Israel from Saudi Arabia, he pulled a trumpian gaffe when he said, “I just came from the Middle East.”**
Or perhaps it could mean “exaggerated,” as in “the crowd estimate was totally trumpian since the theater was half empty.”
Wait–that last one would be spicerian.
See you soon
P.S. Damn–I never did find out which areas of the budget were dracoed!
*I’ll tell you one thing: my wife wants to go to Greece for our anniversary next year, but I ain’t going unless they change that law!
**Although I guess anything that Trump actually says would be trumpian by definition.