Untrustable Assertions

Listening to the NPR today, I hear this from E. J. Dionne, commenting on GOP Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s astounding statements about the civic accomplishments of the Republican House:

[Dionne] We’re going to have a lot of fun with him in terms of the English language. In that recent statement he invented the word “untrustable”. He recently referred to a trip to “Hungaria” … and so he’s got that side of him. [All Things Considered, 2.10.15]

Here at The Life of Words we do (at least) one thing every time we hear an assertion that such-and-such is not a word, and we are almost always gratified. This is what we consider “fun in terms of the English language”:

The word “untrustable” is, (needless needful to say) a bona fide headword in The Oxford English Dictionary, included on the basis of the following quotation:

 1863 Kingsley Water-Bab. iii. 118 Dennis will look up at you with his‥good⁓natured untrustable Irish grey eye.

Oh, those untrustable Irish eyes–eh, McCarthy? So Dionne is about 150 years late on that one.

Now, as for “Hungaria”, while OED2 doesn’t list this as a headword, it does record that Hungaria was the medieval Latin name for that place, and lists usages in English from 1528, 1630, and 1673. So perhaps McCarthy was trying to sound learned–maybe he’s got that side to him…

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *