[Ads-l] Bloviate and Harding

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 23 22:07:59 UTC 2015

On Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 3:17 PM, Mark Peters wrote:
> I'm doing some research on *bloviate* and it's variations, and I've run
> into a weird problem: although virtually every source says Warren Harding
> loved to use this word, I can't find a single example of him using it: not
> in the OED, GDoS, Yale Book of Quotations, or even Presidential Voices. So
> far I've run dry in collections of his letters too.
> Is Harding's use of this word just a myth? I know his coining the word was
> debunked, but I'm starting to wonder if he ever used it at all.

Here's the earliest attribution to Harding that I can find, and the
only one that directly quotes him.

Columbus (Ga.) Daily Enquirer, Nov. 23, 1920, p. 1, col. 5
An Elk Does Not "Bloviate" About Good Deeds -- Harding.
New Orleans, La., Nov. 22 -- President-elect W.G. Harding in his
address to the Elks here last week, coined a new word, which, insofar
as can be determined, has never before been used. In describing the
kind of person an Elk is, the Senator is quoted as saying:
"An Elk is a person, who, when he does a good deed, keeps the
knowledge thereof in his own breast and does not 'bloviate' about it."

Of course, Harding didn't in fact coin "bloviate" (nor did he coin
"normalcy"), as I discuss here:



Ben Zimmer

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

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