Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Oct 24 16:28:41 UTC 2002

I have recently done some research on the presidential use of this term (for
an article soon to appear, I'm given to understand, in NYT), and can report

1. Besides GW Bush, Carter and Eisenhower also said a form of the
"NOOK-y at -l@r"; "-yoo-" (@ = schwa) pron.  Carter sometimes sounded like he
was actually saying “NYOO-kee- at r”.  I was unable to find an audio pron on
this from presidents Ford or GHW Bush.

2. Kennedy said "NOO-ky at -l@r" (that is, the "right way").  I'm pretty sure I
heard an audio clip of Nixon on this, and I believe he too was a
"NOO-ky at -l@r"-sayer.

3. I expect that Truman or Eisenhower were the first presidents who ever had
to use the word in a public speech.  DDE definitely used it; I'm not sure
about HST; could not find a use of it by him, but he may have, sometime.
Prior to the dropping of the atomic bomb (Aug 1945), the word just did not
come up much, outside of the mouths of technicians and scientists.

4. There is a discussion of the whole issue at  Also
an item on it at the Random House dicts website,

(Aside: We can be absolutely certain that Warren G. Harding NEVER said the
word _nuclear_.  He was, shall we say, intellectually challenged, and
perhaps the most naive president of all.  BUT he was considered handsome and
distinguished-looking, and in 1920, the first year of women's suffrage in
the US, the Republicans nominated him partly for his looks (hoping to win
the votes of the women), and partly also because he was so gullible and
could be manipulated by the boys in the smoke-filled rooms.  Surprisingly,
WGH was a fairly decent speech-deliverer (he could read them, though he
likely never wrote one), although he had problems with words and prons,
kinda like GWB.)

Enid Pearsons, long the pron editor for Random House dicts, helped me get
the facts straight on all this (thanks, Enid).

Frank Abate

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