Saturday, February 16, 2013

Back Away and Put Down the Suffix

"Sen. Rubio drowning in 'water-gate'"

Yes, that headline actually exists.  And, yes, it is from CNN.

The use of "gate" as a suffix is one of my many pet peeves.  The Watergate Scandal was not, of course, about H2O.  Wondering how it got to be as ubiquitous as it has become, I consulted my trusted friend The Oxford English Dictionary.  The first recorded example of the use of "gate" as such a suffix is from National Lampoon in August 1972:

‘There have been persistent rumors in Russia of a vast scandal.‥ Implicated in “the Volgagate” are a group of liberal officials.’

In case you didn't know, National Lampoon was a humor magazine.  The use of a "suffix" to name a scandal was a joke.  It is now a media staple.

I continue to wait for a Watergategate scandal to happen someday, so that the suffix can self-destruct in its own contradictions and inanity.

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