Covfefe

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Despite the constant negative press covfefe

May 30, 2017[1]

Covfefe is a misspelling that then-U.S. President Donald Trump used in a viral tweet that instantly became an Internet meme. Six minutes after midnight (EDT) on May 31, 2017, Trump tweeted, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe".[2] He deleted the tweet six hours later and implied that its wording was intentional. Most media outlets presumed that he had meant to type "coverage". White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer stated, "I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant."[3] The term has since been widely used in internet memes and inspires both popular-level and scholarly analysis of language and messaging by the administration.

"Covfefe" tweet and public response[edit]

The tweet garnered intense attention in the news and on social media, quickly becoming a viral phenomenon. Both the word and tweet produced a variety of cultural, economic, and social influences. The Volfefe index (for "volatility" and "covfefe"), created by JPMorgan Chase in 2019, likewise measures the impact of President Trump's tweets on the U.S. bond yields.[4] Covfefe is one of Trump's most famous tweets.[5][6][7]

Trump tweeted at 12:06 a.m. EDT on May 31, 2017, "Despite the constant negative press covfefe", and nothing else.[2] Media outlets have presumed that "covfefe" was a mistyping of the word "coverage".[8][9][10][11] Trump deleted the tweet approximately six hours later.[2][12]

"Covfefe" quickly went viral and generated both jokes and speculations in social media and on the news about its meaning. It was retweeted more than 105,000 times, garnered more than 148,000 likes,[12] and created a viral Internet meme on the morning of May 31.[13] The hashtag #covfefe had been used on the Internet 1.4 million times within 24 hours of Trump's tweet.[14]

Trump never acknowledged that the tweet contained a mistyping. He instead tweeted again at 6:09 a.m. after deleting the original tweet: "Who can figure out the true meaning of 'covfefe' ??? Enjoy!"[15] White House press secretary Sean Spicer implied later that day that the tweet was not a typo but rather intentional: "I think the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant."[3]

The Google Search term "covfefe" surpassed the search term "Paris climate" (in reference to the 2015 Paris Climate agreement) on May 31, the same day Trump indicated that the U.S. may withdraw from the Paris Agreement.[16]

Trump referenced the word in May 2018 by pronouncing it in a White House video about the auditory illusion Yanny or Laurel. He stated near the end of the video: "I hear 'covfefe'."[17]

An analyst for The Washington Post, Philip Bump wrote in July 2019 that the covfefe tweet represented President Trump's refusal to admit minor misstatements.[18] Other Trump critics in the media expressed similar opinions.[19][20]

Influence[edit]

The Covfefe Presidency, by Mike Licht
The Covfefe Presidency, by Mike Licht

Writing for The Atlantic in January 2019, journalist Adrienne LaFrance summarized the significance of the covfefe tweet: "Covfefe remains the tweet that best illustrates Trump's most preternatural gift: He knows how to captivate people, how to command, and divert the attention of the masses."[21]

The covfefe meme produced a variety of follow-up effects in culture, language, and business. While marking the first anniversary of the covfefe tweet in May 2018, a USA Today article noted: "But did the president know what he had wrought on U.S. culture? The memes. The songs. The jokes."[22]

In language and politics[edit]

The Urban Dictionary quickly added an entry for "covfefe" on the day of the tweet, defining it as follows: "It literally means covfefe."[23] The popular word game Words with Friends added "covfefe" to its dictionary in June 2017.[24]

Dictionary.com announced that "covfefe" topped its list of 'unmatched queries' in October 2017 and continued to have the most user searches for a word without an entry.[25] Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable added an entry for "covfefe" to its 20th edition in October 2018.[26]

Lake Superior State University included "covfefe" in its '43rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness' in December 2017. The university's spokesperson noted that the word "became shorthand for a social media mistake".[27]

"Covfefe" now often invokes when public figures, businesses, and organizations discuss gaffes in public discourse. Among Trump's subsequent misspellings and mis-speakings, "text massages",[28] "President Of The Virgin Islands",[29] "the oranges of the investigation", "smocking gun",[30] "hamberders",[31] "Melanie",[32] "Prince of Whales",[33] "global waming",[34] "hustory",[35] and others compare in the media to the covfefe tweet.

Protester holding a 'Truth not "Covfefe"' sign.
A protester holding a 'Truth not "Covfefe"' sign.

Gaffes by Joe Biden,[36] McDonald's,[37] India's Ministry of Finance,[38] Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte,[citation needed] Indian writer and politician Shashi Tharoor,[39] British journalist Andrew Marr,[40] former President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev,[41] and Burger King[42] also evoked comparisons to covfefe in the media.

Other uses of "covfefe" involve word play on similarity with the word "coffee".[43] Examples include a coffee shop called "Covfefe Café",[44] a beer called "'No Collusion' Russian Imperial Coffee 'Covfefe' Stout",[45] various covfefe coffee drinks,[46][47] an alcoholic coffee cocktail "Covfefe",[48] a coffee and tea ad by Amul,[49] a pro-Trump coffee brand "Covfefe Coffee", etc.[50]

Anti-Trump protesters at various events also use signs featuring variations on the covfefe theme.[51][52][53]

Journalist Tom Nicholson put covfefe as number one in a top-five list of Donald Trump's "linguistic triumphs" in a December 2018 article for Esquire, with the story's byline being "It's hard to imagine a dictionary without 'covfefe' in it now."[54]

In law[edit]

U.S. Representative Mike Quigley introduced H.R.2884, "The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act (COVFEFE Act)" on June 12, 2017.[55] It would require the National Archives to preserve and store social media posts by the President of the United States. The bill referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the same day but saw no further congressional action.[56]

In business and commerce[edit]

The covfefe tweet quickly spawned a variety of merchandise items (e.g., t-shirts, coffee mugs, hats, and bags) bearing covfefe-related inscriptions.[57][58]

Covfefe inspired several board games,[59][60][61] a caffeine tracker app,[62] puzzles,[63] gifts,[64] toilet paper,[65] and other products.

Including both supporters and opponents of Trump, residents of 21 U.S. states obtained customized "Covfefe" license plates by February 2018.[66] The state of Georgia prohibits the use of this word on vanity license plates.[67]

Photo of a sign advertising a Covfefe cocktail.
A coffee shop sign advertising a Covfefe cocktail.

A 2018 Google Chrome extension called Covfefe allows Twitter users to correct misspellings in their earlier tweets.[68]

Amazon pulled "Covfefe Coffee", a pro-Trump coffee brand promoted by a number of conservative commentators, due to its ads' usage of the U.S. flag in January 2019.[50]

Upholding the denial of one of such applications, a January 2019 decision by Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO concluded that the word "covfefe" was too commonly used in a variety of contexts and therefore cannot trademark for any specific product.[69] At least 40 trademark applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for various kinds of covfefe-themed merchandise; none of those applications have been granted as of March 2019.[70]

Using inspiration from the covfefe tweet, JPMorgan Chase created a "Volfefe index" in September 2019 to measure the impact of Trump's tweets on the U.S. bond yields.[71] The name "volfefe" is a portmanteau of the words "volatility" and "covfefe".[4]

In horse racing[edit]

A bay filly born in 2016, named Covfefe, won several Graded Stake races in 2018 and 2019, including the 2019 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. She earned more than one million USD.[72][73][74]

In literature, art, and entertainment[edit]

Trump critic Najah Mahir published a book The Ransom that Lies Demand: We the People and "Covfefe" in 2018[75] that he described as "a nonfiction book that boldly serves as part of a movement to attain knowledge and freedom while rejecting racism and harmful ideologies".[76]

A game created by Paradox Interactive in May 2016, Stellaris, listed the "Covfefe" star system name as an in-game Easter egg.[77]

The video game Minecraft has a splash text on the title screen referencing covfefe.[78]

A public art project started in January 2018 by an American artist Diana Weymar features covfefe-themed art, documenting Trump's Twitter mishaps.[79]

A December 2018 art rug design "Caught in the Covfefe" by a textile artist Polly Webber is immigration themed and "portrays a border patrol officer taking a young girl from her undocumented mother, who pleads in Spanish, 'Don't take my daughter!'"[80]

Make-up artists for RuPaul's Drag Race designed a wig called "Covfefe" for the show in 2019.[81]

A project of The Daily Show, the Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library features a piece dedicated to covfefe.[82]

Ed Martin released an adult coloring book Covfefe Christmas Coloring Book Comic with Song in December 2018.[83][84]

Numerous "Covfefe Song" videos appear on YouTube.[85]

Alec Baldwin portrayed Trump on Saturday Night Live's "At Home" edition on April 11, 2020, to discuss the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, referring to it as "Covfefe-19"[86][87][88] while drinking Clorox bleach that he called "COVID juice".[89]

In scholarly research[edit]

A number of scholarly papers related the covfefe tweet to President Trump's use of social media and the corresponding effects on language and culture.[90][91][92]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Donald J. Trump [@realDonaldTrump] (May 30, 2017). "Despite the constant negative press covfefe" (Tweet). Archived from the original on May 31, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2021 – via Twitter.
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  5. ^ Amanda Kooser (December 10, 2018). "Donald Trump #SmockingGun typo sets Twitter on fire". CNET. Retrieved September 10, 2019. Twitter user Matthew Kick gave a humorous shout-out to one of Trump's most famous Twitter spellings of all time, the mysterious "covfefe" back in 2017
  6. ^ Morgan Gstalter (December 11, 2018). "George Conway mocks Trump's misspellings". The Hill. Retrieved September 10, 2019. Katyal, who previously worked under former President Obama, trolled some of Trump's most famous spelling errors by asking why Starbucks "cofefe" was always "smocking hot."
  7. ^ *"The Daily Show will be trolling Trump on his birthday with ads on Fox News". The Week. June 12, 2019. The pop-up exhibit, which has already traveled to Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, features some of the president's most famous tweets, such as the ever-mysterious "covfefe."*Cat Zakrzewski (July 12, 2019). "The Technology 202: Trump's social media summit was a spectacle. Here are the real takeaways for Big Tech". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 10, 2019. Large posters of some of President Trump's most famous tweets were placed on stands. My colleague Philip Bump spotted a tweet about the president's "covfefe" typo next to the bust of Abraham Lincoln.
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  18. ^ Philip Bump (July 5, 2019). "The problem with Trump's Revolutionary War airports isn't the airports". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2019. This inability to admit misstatements has no more extreme example than his infamous "covfefe" tweet from 2017.
  19. ^ David A. Graham (September 5, 2019). "Trump's Most Pointless Lie". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 9, 2019. Not since "covfefe," a similarly absurdist episode, has Trump stuck so insistently to a pointless lie, though even that moment was over faster.
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  58. ^ Sarah Dennis (2017). "Cedar Rapids by Miguel Arteta (review)". Middle West Review. 4 (1): 199–201. doi:10.1353/mwr.2017.0081. S2CID 188964457. Although Raygun continues to release current events slogans beyond presidential elections (a recent shirt declares, "We have nothing to fear but covfefe"), the brand's primary offerings are local color slogans that simultaneously celebrate and satirize midwestern identity.
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External links[edit]