[Ads-l] Strong WOTY Candidate: Alt-Right

Mon Nov 14 17:37:08 UTC 2016

At this point, "alt-right" seems almost inevitable as the 2016 word of the year.  (Come on, you didn't want it to be "pussy" anyway.  Well, maybe some of you did.)

"Alt-right" or "alt right" is a shortened form of "alternative right," an umbrella term for radical right movements.  According to Wikipedia, the alt-right has no formal ideology, although various sources have stated that white nationalism is fundamental.  The alt-right is closely associated with Breitbart News under Stephen Bannon, who has now been named chief strategist to President-elect Trump, and the alt-right generally supported Trump in the election.

"Alternative right" goes back at least to December 1, 2008, when Paul Gottfried posted a speech under the title The Decline and Rise of the Alternative Right, http://takimag.com/article/the_decline_and_rise_of_the_alternative_right.  The speech was given earlier, in the November 21 - 23 timeframe, but the text of the speech did not use the term.  Gottfried identified as a paleoconservative rather than a member of the alternative right, but Richard Bertrand Spencer in 2010 founded the Alternative Right blog, http://alternative-right.blogspot.com/.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says that Spencer earlier coined the term in 2008, but does not give a cite, https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/ideology/alternative-right.

"Alt-right" came to broad national attention on August 25, 2016, when Hillary Clinton gave a speech accusing Republican candidate Donald Trump of "helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party."  I see it used in a blog post on December 18, 2013, https://robertlindsay.wordpress.com/2013/12/18/alt-right-and-new-right-same-old-conservative-crap-with-new-lipstick/, but it must be at least somewhat older than that.

John Baker

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

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