Like many confused Americans (and, I’m presuming, global citizens), I woke up this morning, booted up my computer, looked at the internets, and immediately thought, “…Is ‘covfefe’ a word?” This is not a mystery I anticipated ever pondering; then again, a Trump presidency is not a mystery I anticipated ever pondering, either, and, well, here we are. It was unsurprising, therefore, when I discovered that the “covfefe” mystery and Donald Trump were all tied up together in one baffling, linguistic package; of course the source of the strange and unusual arrangement of letters was Trump himself. Why wouldn’t it be?
It all began shortly after midnight on May 31. (Again, unsurprising; many Twitter-related Trump debacles happen late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.) At 12:06 a.m. ET, the following tweet emerged, pushing its way out of Trump’s Twitter account and into the deep, dark world:
The tweet has since been deleted — replaced by something perhaps even stranger (more on that in a moment) — but not before a substantial number of intrepid Twitter users took screenshots for posterity. Indeed, the Tweeple of the universe had ample time to take as many screenshots as they wished; the tweet remained live until roughly 6 a.m., according to The Guardian — which, as we all know, is an eternity in internet time. Here is one such screenshot, which I include so that you, too, may witness the tweet in action, Gentle Readers:
that was the moment Trump became prsiduvhirw pic.twitter.com/fKVPPNVFH0— Anthony Brian Smith (@AnthonyBLSmith) May 31, 2017
Words fail me.
They failed Merriam-Webster, too — which, considering how on point the dictionary’s Twitter account has been throughout the course of Trump’s presidency, is quite impressive:
Wakes up.— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 31, 2017
📈 Lookups fo...
Regrets checking Twitter.
Goes back to bed.
Which, it occurs to me, is precisely the point, is it not? Perhaps that’s the meaning of “covfefe” — it is the exact moment at which, in the face of something truly baffling, words fail, leaving one grasping at proverbial straws in a possibly futile effort to make sense of the nonsensical. I believe that would make “covfefe” a noun.
Of course, though, I am far from the only person who, in the absence of an existing definition (because, again, “covfefe” is not in fact a word), has attempted to bring order to the chaos. What’s more, we are not doing it at the behest of Trump’s replacement tweet, which encourages readers to “figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’”:
Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
We are doing it because nothing else makes sense anymore. This is one small way we can try to exert control over what so frequently seems out of control — so you’d better believe we’re going to give it everything we’ve got.
Here are a few possible definitions of “covfefe,” according to the good people of the internet:
3The "It" Factor
5Bill Murray's Secret
6Salt Bae's Second Favorite Seasoning
7The World's Greatest Moisturizer
8A Rejected Beatles Song Lyric
I am the egg man. They are the egg men. I am the walrus. Covfefe.— waitwait (@waitwait) May 31, 2017
9A Rare Patronus
10An Alternate Energy Source
can covfefe be used as starship fuel— Riker Googling (@RikerGoogling) May 31, 2017
11Where I Wish I Was Living
12The Standard Greeting At A Red Wedding
"The Lannisters send their covfefe"— Elergumena (@mascaraeyeliner) May 31, 2017
13A New Pokemon
Covfefe (n) A mistake one tries to play off as if it were intentional— OhNoSheTwitnt (@OhNoSheTwitnt) May 31, 2017
e.g. Everything Trump has done as POTUS has been quite the covfefe
16And Also This:
covfefe (n) - distraction from damage you cause. "In an act of covfefe, Trump bashed a B-list actor after bailing on a global climate pact."— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) May 31, 2017
17And, Uh, This:
18A Little-Known Character In 'Les Miserables'
20Pretty Much Whatever You Want It To Mean
#ReplaceAWordInAMovieWithCovfefe The Good, the Bad and the Covfefe..— Forest Spirit (@EarthenBlueSky7) May 31, 2017
Yes, "covfefe" is a distraction. Yes, there are a lot of things we need to be paying attention to — like, for example, the fact that Trump is expected to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord in the very near future. But sometimes... you just need to covfefe.