more -gates

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Mar 22 15:41:03 UTC 2012

Larry Sheldon
> Do we have a gate=gate here?

The cliche use of the suffix -gate is perhaps worthy of a scandal
label: gate-gate. I was sidetracked while looking for "gate-gate" by
an interesting claim about "winegate" in the following article:

San Francisco Chronicle
Will 'gate-gate' ever cease?
by John Diaz
Sunday, July 25, 2010

[Begin excerpt]
The first use of the "gate" suffix as a designation for scandal was
believed to be "Winegate," which involved the adulteration of Bordeaux
wines in France.

After that, the floodgates were open, even before "Floodgate," a 1978
corruption scandal involving Rep. Daniel Flood, a Pennsylvania

The late William Safire, a former Nixon speechwriter who became an
erudite editorial observer of politics and language, was widely
credited for elevating the gate suffix into popular lexicon. In
"Safire's Political Dictionary," he readily credits himself with
dubbing "Koreagate" (1975, an influence-peddling scandal involving 10
House Democrats) and "Applegate" (1977, in which New York City Mayor
Abe Beame was accused of suppressing a Securities and Exchange
Commission report on the city's dire finances).
[End excerpt]

The OED has the -gate suffix with a first cite in 1973. LH mentioned
the element of a cover-up, and the OED also alludes to this aspect of
a scandal.

[Begin excerpt]

-gate, comb. form

Etymology:  Part of the name Watergate: see note s.v. Watergate n.3
orig. and chiefly U.S.

A terminal element denoting an actual or alleged scandal (and usually
an attempted cover-up), in some way comparable with the Watergate
scandal of 1972. Appended to:

 1. The name of the place where such a scandal (allegedly) occurred,
or that of a place in some way associated with the scandal, as
Dallasgate, Hollywoodgate, Irangate, Koreagate, etc.

1973   National Lampoon Aug. 27/2   There have been persistent rumors
in Russia of a vast scandal.‥ Implicated in ‘the Volgagate’ are a
group of liberal officials.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society -

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