This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Word To Use Today: roorback.

We don't have the American English word roorback in British English, but we certainly need it.

A roorback is a distorted or entirely false report used for political advantage.

Come to think about it, that's practically all of them.

Rather sweetly, the man the word commemorates, Baron von Roorback, was entirely imaginary.

Word To Use Today: roorback. This word goes back to a time when the most effective way to smear a political opponent was in the newspapers. Whoever made up the roorback scheme did his best to obscure the non-existence of his witness, Baron von Roorback, who was said to have claimed that James K Polk, the presidential candidate, owned at least 43 slaves all branded with his initials. This claim was supposed to have been made in Roorback's (non-existent) book Tour Through The Western and Southern United States. Details of this account were sent anonymously to a newspaper in Ithaca, New York, in 1844.

However, all this obfuscation wasn't enough to prevent the scheme being revealed as a dirty trick. The plot back-fired, and Polk was duly elected.

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