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4 September 2017updated 05 Sep 2017 11:15am

The internet dictionary: what does it mean to be corncobbed?

Donald Trump will go down as the most corncobbed president in history.

By Amelia Tait

What is “binch”? And what is it to be “corncobbed”? These questions were recently tweeted by the US journalist John Stoehr, much to the amusement of the internet. Soon afterwards, the American political pundit Al Giordano seemingly answered the latter question by branding the term “homophobic”. In a few tweets, both men exposed themselves as ignorant of online culture and were ruthlessly mocked. You might say they were corncobbed.

It all started in 2011 with a tweet by @Dril, a social media user well known for his surreal posts.

“im not owned! im not owned!!”, i continue to insist as i slowly shrink and transform into a corn cob

— wint (@dril) November 11, 2011

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Since that moment, screenshots of this post have been juxtaposed with tweets in which people try to deny that they have lost an argument, or have been fooled. (“Owned” is a 1990s slang term, signalling that someone has been defeated or humiliated.)

Take, for example, this Donald Trump tweet. “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” the president wrote on 9 February, after a US appeals court upheld the suspension of his “travel ban” – an executive order that temporarily banned citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations from entry into the US. Trump had lost but was denying that this was the case. He had been corncobbed.

Yet, although corncobbing has existed since 2011, the slang term only entered common parlance this year. This explains why Giordano mistakenly believed it to be a homophobic slur: the Urban Dictionary defined the phrase as a sex act in 2011. But thanks to pundits asking about “being corncobbed”, the phrase now has a more official weight (it is, however, still a long way from getting a definition in the Oxford English Dictionary).

So, to summarise: to be corncobbed is being owned while angrily and vehemently denying that you were owned at all. And binch, if you’re wondering, is simply a friendlier version of “bitch”.

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This article appears in the 30 Aug 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The decline of the American empire