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18 Most Relevant Words (By Candidate) from the GOP Debates

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

The word-learning site Vocabulary.com has a list-making tool that can automatically generate vocabulary study lists from speeches or passages in books. It finds the most relevant words in a text by looking at which words are used more frequently than one would expect when compared to the language as a whole. They ran the numbers on last night’s GOP debates, and came up with the most relevant words for each candidate. Click on the word to see the definition, or study the whole list at Vocabulary.com. Here are the results:

1. DEBATE AS A WHOLE // AMNESTY

This word relating to immigration policy was used by Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Scott Walker, as well as Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, and Rick Perry in the preliminary debate.

2. JEB BUSH // VOUCHER

Bush touted his creation of a school voucher program in Florida, using a word you would normally see only once every 4,181 pages of text a total of three times.

3. BEN CARSON // TITHE

Carson’s proposal for a tax system based on the Christian practice of tithing tied him to this rarely used word. And got it trending on Twitter.

4. CHRIS CHRISTIE // ENTITLEMENT

This word, mostly found in discussions of government benefit programs, was used three times by the Governor of New Jersey.

5. TED CRUZ // AMNESTY

Though the word "amnesty" was used by many of the candidates, Cruz used it the most in voicing his opposition to pardoning illegal immigration.

6. MIKE HUCKABEE // BURGEONING

Huckabee employed this relatively rare word with reference to the danger of Iran as a “burgeoning nuclear power.”

7. JOHN KASICH // RECIDIVISM

Recidivism, the tendency of an ex-convict to go back to a previous behavior, was one of the rarest words used in the debate. Kasich used it in reference to the benefit of getting prisoners treatment for drug addiction.

8. MARCO RUBIO // EVISCERATE

In a call to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act, Rubio claimed it was “eviscerating small businesses and small banks.”

9. RAND PAUL // ANIMUS

Paul made sure to say that animus, a feeling of ill-will or animosity, was not behind his proposal to decrease foreign aid to Israel.

10. DONALD TRUMP // DESTABILIZE

Trump bragged that only he had the foresight to know that the war in Iraq “was going to destabilize the Middle East.”

11. SCOTT WALKER // REINSTATE

Walker spoke about reinstating with reference to two things: the sanctions against Iran and the missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

And here were the most relevant candidate words from the preliminary debates and the quotes where they appeared: 

12. CARLY FIORINA // RESURGENCE

“We need a leader who will lead the resurgence of this great nation and unlock its potential once again.”

13. JIM GILMORE // LEGISLATING

“The President shouldn't be legislating.”

14. LINDSEY GRAHAM // EMPOWER

“She has empowered a failed agenda.”

15. BOBBY JINDAL // ASSIMILATION

“Immigration without assimilation is an invasion.”

16. GEORGE PATAKI // RADICALIZE

“…go after those who are here who we know who are here, before they can radicalize other Americans to carry out attacks.”

17. RICK PERRY // ENTITLEMENT

“We can reform those entitlements, we can change that corporate tax code and lower it.”

18. RICK SANTORUM // JUGGERNAUT

“It’s a 20 percent flat rate tax, it’ll take a blowtorch to the—to the IRS. It will create a manufacturing juggernaut in this country.”

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Big Questions
Where Should You Place the Apostrophe in President's Day?
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Happy Presidents’ Day! Or is it President’s Day? Or Presidents Day? What you call the national holiday depends on where you are, who you’re honoring, and how you think we’re celebrating.

Saying "President’s Day" infers that the day belongs to a singular president, such as George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, whose birthdays are the basis for the holiday. On the other hand, referring to it as "Presidents’ Day" means that the day belongs to all of the presidents—that it’s their day collectively. Finally, calling the day "Presidents Day"—plural with no apostrophe—would indicate that we’re honoring all POTUSes past and present (yes, even Andrew Johnson), but that no one president actually owns the day.

You would think that in the nearly 140 years since "Washington’s Birthday" was declared a holiday in 1879, someone would have officially declared a way to spell the day. But in fact, even the White House itself hasn’t chosen a single variation for its style guide. They spelled it “President’s Day” here and “Presidents’ Day” here.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Maybe that indecision comes from the fact that Presidents Day isn’t even a federal holiday. The federal holiday is technically still called “Washington’s Birthday,” and states can choose to call it whatever they want. Some states, like Iowa, don’t officially acknowledge the day at all. And the location of the punctuation mark is a moot point when individual states choose to call it something else entirely, like “George Washington’s Birthday and Daisy Gatson Bates Day” in Arkansas, or “Birthdays of George Washington/Thomas Jefferson” in Alabama. (Alabama loves to split birthday celebrations, by the way; the third Monday in January celebrates both Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert E. Lee.)

You can look to official grammar sources to declare the right way, but even they don’t agree. The AP Stylebook prefers “Presidents Day,” while Chicago Style uses “Presidents’ Day.”

The bottom line: There’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Go with what feels right. And even then, if you’re in one of those states that has chosen to spell it “President’s Day”—Washington, for example—and you use one of the grammar book stylings instead, you’re still technically wrong.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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language
Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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