Merriam-Webster defines “headdesk” as an internet neologism “used to express frustration or exasperation.”
Apparently, it also describes the dictionary’s reaction to having its helpful language advice once again ignored by President Donald Trump.
On May 8, Trump issued another of his memorable misspellings, tweeting, “Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council.” Oops, wrong council/counsel, pointed out indefatigable word defender Merriam-Webster:
Just 10 days later, however, Trump was at it again, this time with a weird mashup between the two spellings in a now-deleted tweet: “With all of the illegal acts that took place in the Clinton campaign & Obama Administration, there was never a special councel appointed.”
Catch that? The i has become an e, but unfortunately it’s still right after a c. That’s not a word!
This time, Merriam-Webster was too exhausted to reiterate its previous correction, simply following up on the May 8 thread to relay their reaction:
Apparently a facepalm just wasn’t enough.
According to Merriam-Webster, “headdesk” is derived from the literal slamming of one’s head into a desk out of frustration or annoyance. The abbreviated term arose online, initially in late ‘90s forums, and has been popularized on social media and other digital communications as a quick, colorful way of conveying one’s irritation.
“The word headdesk is used most often interjectionally, or a parenthetical comment on something,” the dictionary notes, but with outrage and frustration becoming a constant feature of the political scene, it’s no wonder we’re increasingly using it as a verb or even a gerund.
Merriam-Webster has been headdesking over Trump’s reckless disregard for the English language for some time. Given all the troublesome news coming out of the White House ― the least of which may be its spelling woes ― we should probably all get comfortable with the word, and its application.