Merriam-Webster, tireless defender of words, had a quick and decisive response on Twitter: Nope.
In a frostily polite thread, the dictionary’s social account went through the phrase’s etymology, dating the term to the late 18th century and the economic use of it to the 1930s.
Trump has previously indicated his support for “priming the pump” as economic policy, causing some consternation among conservatives opposed to government spending.
The concept dates back to economist John Maynard Keynes, who argued that when a population’s “animal spirits” were flagging, an influx of government spending could stimulate the overall economy. The use of the phrase “prime the pump” to describe this policy dates back to 1933, according to Merriam-Webster ― just about 13 years before Trump was born.
It’s telling that Trump assumes that he came up with the phrase, which has long been a stock term in economic conversation. Abundant evidence already exists that the president rarely, if ever, reads; interviews routinely demonstrate that he is poorly educated on the substance and history of the policies he advocates for and against. This tacit admission that he’s unfamiliar with Keynes and, by extension, one of the great economic debates of the 20th century, provides further confirmation.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 11, 2017
What’s more, his claim tends toward self-aggrandization rather than curiosity or reflection. Trump, who has repeatedly insisted that he has “a very good brain” and “the best words,” stakes his business and political reputation on his generative abilities, when in fact his accomplishments often involve simply stamping his brand on projects or concepts developed and executed by others.
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H/T Huffington Post