Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday took a swipe at party-hopping politicians in India by posting a video of a chameleon changing shades as it climbs a colour-banded pole and threw in a rarely used word to go with it — snollygoster. His sharp-witted jibe comes in the backdrop of several politicians switching sides ahead of the Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat assembly polls. And snollygoster, defined as a politician who cares more for personal gain than serving the people or a clever, unscrupulous person, perhaps summed up what Tharoor was trying to convey.
Tharoor’s post on Twitter showed a video of the chameleon crawling up the stick with these words: “The changing colours of political defectors in India, brilliantly illustrated by this actual chameleon! Snollygosters’ role model!”. The prolific author and man of many letters, known for throwing in obscure English words into Twitter lexicon, has used snollygoster earlier as well. In 2017, he tweeted the word in an apparent reference to Nitish Kumar switching sides to the BJP. He did so again in 2019 when BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis was sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra with Nationalist Congress Party’s Ajit Pawar seemingly switching over to support a BJP-led government.
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The MP from Thiruvananthapuram on Friday tweeted another amusing word. His “word of the week” was “Tantrump”.He posted the meaning of the word as well – an outburst of anger, characterized by an inflated sense of entitlement, denial, narcissism, paranoia, victimhood and debilitating tribalism. Tharoor shared an example of its usage — “The losing candidate threw a Tantrump”.This was posted alongside a cartoon of former US president Donald Trump raising a hue and cry over his poll defeat. Tharoor, author-politician-wordsmith, has often sent Twitterati scurrying for their dictionaries to confirm whether such words indeed exist.
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In May this year, Tharoor shared his “word of the era” — doomscrolling. He helpfully shared the meaning too. “The act of continuously seeking out and reading bad news.” Before that, Tharoor took a dig at the Ministry of Railways with a difficult-to-pronounce head-scratcher — quomodocunquize. “To make money by any means possible,” he posted.
In a tweet, Tharoor had said, “Obscure Words Deptt: Must the Indian Railways quomodocunquize?” Earlier this year, he used introduced many in the Twitter world to quockerwodger. “A quockerwodger was a type of wooden puppet. In politics, a quockerwodger was a politician acting on the instructions of an influential third party, rather than properly representing their constituents,” he said. Before that, Tharoor took a dig at the BJP with the word allodoxaphobia, which he explained was an irrational fear of opinions.
In the past, he has stumped people with words such as farrago and troglodyte. While farrago means a confused mixture, troglodyte means a person regarded as being deliberately ignorant or old-fashioned.