In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Donald Trump sent out a tweet. There is nothing unusual about this, given Trump's penchant for late-night tweets that often result in widespread controversy. This particular tweet, however, had everyone scratching their heads. "Despite the constant negative press covfefe," the tweet read. Even more surprising was the fact that the tweet remained on the president's account overnight, and it was only after six hours that Trump deleted it. But while many Twitter users are attempting to figure out what the tweet meant, Merriam-Webster didn't even try to define "covfefe."
The dictionary's official Twitter account routinely goes after politicians and celebrities when they use words or phrases that are incorrect, confusing, or nonsensical. The account has continued to gain popularity in the past year by going after Trump and his administration for everything from "bigly" to "alternative facts." But as much as Merriam-Webster has assumed the responsibility of trying to define everything that comes out of Trump's mouth, it seems even a dictionary can't make sense of the "covfefe" typo.
In fact, Merriam-Webster managed to allude to Trump's nonsensical tweet without mentioning the word "covfefe" at all. While Trump replaced his original tweet with a new one asking his followers if they could figure out the "true meaning of covfefe," Merriam-Webster appeared to express defeat.
Whoever is managing Merriam-Webster's Twitter account deserves praise for remaining patient at such a time. Imagine waking up to realize that dictionary searches for "covfefe" have increased exponentially overnight, despite the fact that Trump probably just meant to type "coverage." To add to the unfortunate nature of the situation, Trump has decided not to explain himself, which means we need Merriam-Webster to help us out.
The dictionary was able to make sense of "bigly," after all:
Maybe "covfefe" is another word dating back to Middle English, like bigly. But how will we ever know without Merriam-Webster's help?
Luckily, Merriam-Webster isn't the only dictionary that has addressed the "covfefe" debacle. Oxford Dictionaries tweeted that "covfefe" was its coinage of the day, and went one step further to solicit possible definitions for the word.
If the two dictionaries work together, it's possible that we may still end up with a definition for this mysterious word. Merriam-Webster has never left us hanging before, and while it did not follow Oxford Dictionaries' example by adopting "covfefe" as its word of the day, this probably won't be the last time we see this word make its rounds on Twitter.