Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat Sep 19 18:20:52 UTC 2009

On Sat, Sep 19, 2009 at 1:40 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Another similar creation--and even more closely correlated with
> Birthers--is "Deather". The obvious target for this was Sarah Palin and
> her reference to Death Panels in the yet-to-be-determined healthcare
> reform. The earliest appearance in a written piece in this context that
> I initially found was from 10 August 2009 (buzzflash.com and
> DailyKos--the former on Sarah Palin, the latter, an improvised
> dictionary entry), but there is an earlier entry in the Urban Dictionary
> from 31 July 2009. (A second definition appeared in UD on August 11.)
> The UD piece, judging from the nickname of the contributor, was inspired
> by Rachel Maddow. Whether she used it in one of her MSNBC broadcasts, I
> don't know. But the actual coinage appears to have been by Christopher
> Beam in a Slate Article from July 28 (Scaring Grandma).

I noted "deather" in my Aug. 21 Word Routes column, "The Lexicon of
the Health Care Debate":


Beam's Slate article is earliest appearance I was able to find too. It
was in use among Talking Points Memo commenters by July 31:


...but didn't really take off until after Palin's "death panel"
comment on Aug. 7 (as Victor notes).

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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