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Avoiding Weasel Words

Page history last edited by gretchen 11 years, 4 months ago

Weasel Words

Meaning:  Ambiguous or quibbling speech.


Origin:  Stewart Chaplin's story Stained glass political platform, 1900, contains this line:  "Why, weasel words are words that suck the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks the egg and leaves the shell."


The Daily Oklahoman, October 1906 used the term in questioning the sincerity of a set of principles which was being written by the Democratic Party:  "If written after the nominations, will it express in plain words the economic demand of the exploited class, or will it be filled in with weasel words, well sounding to the people, but well meaning to corporate greed?"


If Theodore Roosevelt, then Colonel Roosevelt, is to be believed then it was the latter. In 1910, he was reported in various US newspapers as saying that he liked the Republican state platform because it contained no "weasel words", explaining that "weasel words" were words which sucked the meaning out of the words in front of them


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