The Meteoric Rise of ‘Robust’

This n-grams viewer graph jibes with my own sense that people are using the word robust a lot more often than they once did. (From latin robustus, literally “as strong as an oak.”)

I was under the vague impression that it was Donald Rumsfeld or the Bush administration that popularized its use, but the graph (which, of course, measures written and not spoken instances of the word) seems to indicate that its meteoric rise began circa 1980.

In a similar vein is the phrase “salacious details” which I recall as having arisen from the Monica Lewinsky investigation. (And, again, Iraq War, ‘embedded.’ — though contrast with ‘embedded journalist.’)

Other ngrams:

Pale Blue Eyes,Candy Says;

Ghana,Gold Coast;

Joseph Conrad,Henry James;

Mars,Jupiter,Pluto,Saturn;

hurricane, cyclone …


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