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Word of the Day: Gerrymander

November 22nd, 2010 · 9 Comments

So, I was vaguely aware that the term “gerrymander” had come from 19th century Massachusetts governor Elbridge Gerry, a pioneer of the fine art of redrawing political districts to entrench his party’s power.  But I’d always assumed the “mander” part was from the same Latin root as “mandate”—as in, an order or injunction of the sort Gerry and his party had employed.

Nope.  Turns out the contorted shapes of the districts Gerry had to draw to keep his party’s supporters in the majority reminded a contemporary cartoonist of some kind of monstrous lizard or salamander—hence gerrymander. Learn something new every day.

Tags: Language and Literature



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