From Merriam-Webster: “The word as used today commonly means “a person in his or her dotage” (dotage is “a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness”). Dotard, which comes from the Middle English word doten (meaning “to dote”), initially had the meaning of “imbecile” when it began being used in the 14th century.”
Rot in thy grave, thou dotard, I defie thee.
Curst be our day of marriage: shall I nurse
And play the mother to anothers brat?
— Thomas Randolph, The Jealous Lovers. A Comedy, 1632
Last month, when North Korean strongman Kim Jong-un called Donald Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” he helped to revive an ancient term used by none other than Chaucer and Shakespeare that had fallen into disuse.
But what we also might have learned is that Kim, who probably never majored in English Literature, could nevertheless be a fan of someone more contemporary – like Esquire contributor Charles Pierce, who in May wrote that,
The most innocent explanation for the president*’s actions is that he’s a blundering dotard who can’t stop himself from destroying democratic institutions and from tripping over federal statutes.
High on a hill is a blundering dotard.
Hmm, on second thought, we’d better not go there, lest the ghost of Oscar Hammerstein punish me this Halloween.
To his credit, Pierce, certainly a champion of Chaucer and Shakespeare, offered Kim some credit for helping to keep Elizabethan language in our discourse.
“I would like to thank Kim for bringing ‘dotard’ back,” Pierce offered. There was no comment from the other lexicographer, Donald Trump, on Kim’s contribution to the English tongue.
By great coincidence, our good friend, teacher and poet, Ann Morahan, inspired by so many people intent on accessing Merriam-Webster and other websites, sent a poem, Ode To A Dotard, for Plunderbund readers to enjoy. Since we are now celebrating the centenary of World War I, Ann is reminding us that the behavior of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, particularly with the use of the word dotard, might mark this feud between the two beefy bloviating bullies with bad haircuts as the beginning of, yes, Word War I.
Some more about Ann Morahan: A retired teacher who spent 37 years in the classroom, Ann taught English as a second language as well as Spanish during her professional career in K-12 settings. Due to the present national political situation, she determined to study as well as write poetry to assist in maintaining some semblance of sanity and also devote time to be a first-grade classroom volunteer and tutor for immigrant families. Indeed, like Maria von Trapp before her, she has a way with words and also plays the guitar to express her interests in lonely goatherds, er lonely dotards, in the White House.
Ode to a Dotard
by Ann Morahan
Dotard, Dotard, tell me true,
Aren’t you like him
And he like you?
He calls you Dotard,
To you he’s Rocket Man.
His precious rockets
You are trying to ban.
You are both
Two peas in a pod.
You think you’re king
He thinks he’s God.
You both have weird hair
His cut ‘round a bowl
Yours orange cotton candy
His mop black as coal.
You both are big bullies,
Who cheat and who lie
Divisive and cruel
Perverse and sly.
So why don’t you be friends
Meet up and embrace
And take the next rocket
To far-off outer space.
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