What is that word—or words—that Donald Trump throws into the middle of basically everything he says?
There are a great many fronts to Donald Trump’s war on language. He is so bad at syntax, your head will spin. But if there’s one term that serves as central base for Trump’s assault, a defining Trumpism that is his go-to means of superfluous emphasis, it is bigly.
Or is that big league?
For the longest time, to this Trump observer at least, it sounded like bigly. Is this even a word? Maybe? That would hardly matter for Trump. For a grandiose figure who demonstrates, at least in public, a limited, essentials-only vocabulary, it would make sense that this wordlike entity appeals to him. Big is your simplest adjective for something that is, well, big—in scope or size. And what to do if you need to express this in adverb form, as our loquacious entertainer frequently does? Append a -ly to the end of that sucker, per the elementary school heuristic. Bigly.
That’s how many chroniclers of our would-be national leader have transcribed it. Iran is taking over Iraq, “and they’re taking it over bigly.” As in, Iran isn’t screwing around with this Iraq-takeover business. “Obamacare kicks in in 2016, really bigly.” Whatever Obamacare was prior to 2016 will be no match for the Godzilla Obamacare that hits streets in the new year. “I'm talking about illegal immigrants ... at least Fox is being honest because they're now talking about it bigly.” Illegal immigration had been on Fox News’ radar, but until Trump mentioned it, they hadn’t grappled with the issue in a serious manner.