To Bork

Friday, December 21, 2012


(Getty Images)

Supreme Court nominee and Constitutional originalist Robert Bork died this week at the age of 85. In a segment that originally aired in 2005, Brooke muses over the verb "to bork," coined in honor of the man whose unsuccessful bid for the bench earned him a place in Webster's.

Frank Ocean - Crack Rock

Hosted by:

Brooke Gladstone

Comments [8]

Jim Frame from Davis, CA

Regarding names as verbs, the one that immediately popped into my head upon hearing the broadcast was one made famous by the band Fraternity of Man in 1968: "bogart," as in "Don't bogart that joint." (The title of the song is actually "Don't Bogart Me," but who remembers that?)

And now, if you're of a certain age, you have a new ear worm for the remainder of the day. Enjoy!

Dec. 23 2012 08:23 PM
Amy Tecklenburg

Regarding names become verbs, the first one that cme to mind for my was lynch. Then, later in the same broadcast, Bob Garfield came up with another, boycott. So there are other common verbs that are taken directly from surnames.

Dec. 23 2012 03:52 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

So,now my Judge Bork story. In the '74 - '75 time frame, I worked at Newsstand #1, a couple of blocks from Yale's Law School. Living miles away, Sunday mornings without a bus was a hardship and an even greater hardship was dealing with the insistent knocking at before our 7 a.m. opening from the only customer whom I saw before 8 a.m. I didn't see Bork as the instrument of the Saturday Night Massacre. I knew nothing about his judicial philosophy. I just knew that we really, really did not like each other, so I convinced the owners to allow me to open an hour later and poof! I Borked him, however you interpret the verb.

At least he didn't leap for my throat as the V.P. of the Knights of Columbus (later to ascend to Pres.) did when I wouldn't remove our National Lampoon Christmas issue that year with pregnant Mary's father throwing her out! The police had to remind him of the 1st Amendment.

Dec. 23 2012 12:46 PM

Kerry was Borked...Why not "Kerryed"? "Swiftboated" will eventually lose its attachment to an American war hero who was destroyed for extreme partisan ideology.

Dec. 23 2012 11:54 AM
Mike Masnick

I realize this is a repeat report, but am still surprised that OTM missed a popular name-to-verb example that's actually about a form of journalism: "fisk" or "fisking" which dates back over a decade.

Dec. 23 2012 01:22 AM
David Satz from Brooklyn, NY

I first heard of "borking" in late 1973 soon after the "Saturday Night Massacre." A gentleman at my workplace--someone not generally given to making political statements--told a group of us that he'd heard there was a new word, "borking," which was defined as, "firing a man [i.e. Special Prosecutor Cox] for actually doing the job he'd been hired to do."

Years later I was quite surprised to hear the word used to mean something that was supposedly done _to_ Mr. Bork rather than something done _by_ him.

Dec. 22 2012 10:11 PM
Erin from Brooklyn, NY

Another favorite political verb derived from a personal name (compounded with another noun): "to gerrymander."

Dec. 21 2012 09:14 PM
Sam from NYC

You mentioned the noun "boycott" but somehow in the 7 years since this aired, you failed to notice that "to boycott" is also a commonly used verb.

Dec. 21 2012 09:09 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.