The last day of May 2017 could not have been more bigly for the induction of the most joyous gobbledygook into the Gibberish Dictionary. It was just a harmless tweet typified by Trump’s nagging complaint of the media. The tweet was live for about 6 hours and read, “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”. The obvious typo was meant to spell the word coverage and in a normal world, people would have ignored it. But in an age where nuclear codes can be leaked over a simple tweet, the kerfuffle soon skyrocketed into a meme of monumental proportions. While the world played around with its ‘actual’ meaning, some actually trying to decipher its cryptic message.
Understanding the viral nature of his tweet, and to breathe more fire to it, Trump tweeted back, “Who can figure out the true meaning of covfefe?” The internet responded with even more voracious enthusiasm, grasping for meaning behind the obvious typo. Trump aides, on the other hand, have not been too keen on quieting down the internet brigade and so when the press secretary Spicer said, “I think the President and a small group of people knew exactly what he meant,” it only fuelled the hunt for the secret meaning.
Now this whole episode could have died down with Spicer’s admission that it was only a typo, but his support of the tweet would only consolidate its viral status,. which means that Trump’s legacy will be full of terms, “coined covfefe” instead of the more pertinent “pulled out of the climate deal”. While covfefe will join the rest of Trump’s colorful vocabulary, right alongside the likes of ‘bigly’ and ‘yuge’.
Below we analyze some of the meanings of covfefe that the internet experts have decrypted, starting out with Urban Dictionary where one entry reads, “When you want to say “coverage” but your hands are too small to hit all the letters on your keyboard”. It has found an interesting use as a suitable substitute word for example, “Make some covfefe for yourself”, the usage of the word can change depending on the context. There is also a popular parody song on YouTube making use of covfefe in interesting ways, some of which include “covfefe yourself, but not on your furniture.”
Trump’s ardent supporters are actually trying to create justification for the term covfefe, with some tying the non-existent word to Arabic roots meaning, “standing up against an attack” while others claim it has origins in the Samoan language. Neither of the cases are true of course as no linguists would lend credence to such lunacy.
A much more serious consequence of the word covfefe was felt by CNN host Alisyn Camerota, who stirred up some racial controversy when she asked the 2017 spelling bee champion, Ananya Vinay, of South Asian descent to spell Trump’s typo. The girl started by asking for the word’s roots, in a typical spelling bee spirit, before finally spelling it out as, “Cofefe”, to which the host replied, “It’s a nonsense word. So we’re not sure that its root is actually in Sanskrit, which is what you’re probably uh, used to using, so, I don’t know.” Alisyn assumed that the girl knew an Indian language owing simply to her heritage, and so found herself in hot water on a different stove.
All jokes aside, the typos indicate a more pressing issue at hand. Trump tweets incessantly during the night, voicing his opinions and rebuking his rivals, and the fact that the typos do get aired on his Twitter account means that they are not getting scrutinized by his staff and are passing through important checks and balances. The fact that he insists on using his personal iPhone to tweet means that someone could hack into his account and probably start a dangerous line of tweets that could have consequences the world over. It’s frightening to note that we’re one bad tweet away from full scale world war.