Words Coined By President Theodore Roosevelt

Posted on September 2, 2016

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sometime between Labor Day and Election Day, a memorable new phrase may enter the annals of U.S. politics — perhaps a zinger like “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy,” or a promise like “Read my lips: No new taxes.”

On this day 115 years ago, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt gave us one of the most famous entries in our national canon.
“Speak softly and carry a big stick,” he said at the Minnesota State Fair, using a day in the heartland to help define a new role for Washington in the world.
As governor of New York, Roosevelt had used similar words in a letter to a friend, as he explained how he forced the state’s Republican leaders to abandon their support for a corrupt insurance commissioner.
Roosevelt attributed the phrase, which came to refer to U.S. dominance, to a proverb he learned while on a safari in Africa.
He also added “bully pulpit,” “muck raker” and “loose cannon” to our civic lingo. “Lunatic fringe” was his characterization of a group of avant-garde artists before it migrated to political patois.
Speaking more softly, Roosevelt gave us “Alice blue,” a tint named for his daughter Alice, and inspired “teddy bear,” after a toymaker was moved by the president’s refusal to shoot a cub on a hunting trip.
And the term “White House”? That was his, too. It was known as the Executive Mansion until he moved in.


-Culled from New York Times ‘Briefing’

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