Sarah Palin causes a controversy with the phrase “blood libel.” What does it mean, and why are people upset?

The tragedy in Arizona continues to command national attention as well as launch unusual words like “vitriol” into the national vocabulary. Today Sarah Palin referred to accusations that imagery and rhetoric associated with her may have contributed to recent violence as a “blood libel.” Why has this phrase stirred up so much additional strife?

While Palin caused a linguistic sensation in 2010 with her coinage “refudiate” as well as other colorful malapropisms, our hope here is to shed some light on the current uproar rather than add to it.

Blood libels are allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism. Its use is nearly always excluded to sensationalized accusations and high emotions. Throughout history, these claims have been frequently made against Jews living in Europe and even resulted in lynching and persecution of whole Jewish communities.

Pundits say that the reason this phrase has provoked so much anger is because Palin is using the specific and intense sense of “blood libel” to refer to verbal criticisms, implying an equivalence between both circumstances. The famous linguist Deborah Tannen speculated today that Palin and her advisors are unaware of blood libel’s historical meaning, and that the whole episode is a case of semantic bleaching, a phenomenon where a word or term with a specialized meaning takes on a more generalized set of associations with time. In this scenario, the term may simply be thought to mean “a false accusation regarding responsibility for harm to others.”

If you have any questions regarding meaning surrounding the situation in Arizona or the current political environment, let us know below, and we will try to provide useful terms to help. Dictionary.com is a source for authority regarding words – not political actions or opinions. It’s in everyone’s interest to fully understand words and their context to make meaningful connections that are not lost among high emotion and, in the case of the tragedy in Arizona, grief, anger, and more.


  1. V Bisquit -  January 25, 2011 - 5:20 am

    Now that all is said and done, let’s all chant in unison:
    OWAH TANA SIAM (repeat several times, increasing the pace as you go along).

  2. Jonelle Tullock -  January 21, 2011 - 11:52 am

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  3. Keisha -  January 19, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Sarah Palin has set her sites on National Leadership which holds her to a higher standard in her public discourse. If the average man or woman on the street used a phrase without understanding the emotional impact that it could have on millions of people, that’s one thing. But if a national leader decides to use such a phrase, then you have to decide whether they are intentionally inciting a furor or they are just too stupid to know better.

  4. boo boo : ) -  January 17, 2011 - 10:31 pm

    The one person that saw this tragedy coming in the future was Ms. Gifford’s herself. Last year she stated that the crosshairs on Palin’s map targeted her office, and that this kind of rhetoric does not come without consequences.

  5. android -  January 17, 2011 - 12:14 pm

    Therefore the parents of the child and the victims of this crime should form a class action lawsuit against the media channels promoting this crap!

    All of you must go back to the old ways (late 70s and 80s)to teach them sense and respect. The Main Stream Media has you all taking it laying down by promoting more useless electronics with plug n pray usage(today is on, tomorrow you must pray that works again) and more meaningless talks.

    Why they are not making you all aware of the global positioning changes your planet has recently made? No, that is too much to think about because that will cause you to prepare and turning the TV on will be the last thing on your mind!

    Just like the lame wizard (M$) claimed is the hour of the witch, he got that right! But this witch is taking over and his magic will no longer work during my time so, prepare!

    Therefore the parents of the child and the victims of this crime should form a class action lawsuit against the media channels promoting this crap!


  6. Carl -  January 16, 2011 - 11:46 am

    SHEMPUS on January 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm
    “Though it is generally great fun to observe left a r d s heads exploding about ridiculous things, they are getting a bit overly wee-wee’d up on this one. I think we must forcibly remove them from their first ammendment rights. Vapid lemmings”

    LEAVE AMERICA, YOU FASCIST. When it doesn’t suit your agenda, you suggest removing other Americans’ consititutional rights?! Just like our Muslim brothers and sisters who want to build a religious/cultural/educational center (freely open to the public, I might add) near “ground zero”? You are so ridiculous.

    I hope that, when all this partisanship causes the next American civil war, that the miltary’s “domestic” enemies will be identified as the conservative zealots who call for lynchings and book-burnings. Look how short our memories are… Do you not remember how this has gone in history??????

  7. Carl -  January 16, 2011 - 11:35 am

    Pamela, well said. Sarah Palin is nothing special. She’s a misguided fool like the rest of us. This means she is not qualified for, nor considerable for high executive office. We need our best and brightest running the show, not the person next door. Not Joe the plumber. Not the rich, white elitists that were either born into politics or born into wealth- later making the transition to politics. We need hard working, hard learning, educated, young, dynamic professionals running the country. Otherwise, we will watch the rest of the world pass us economically and socially while we stay schizophrenic about diversions such as gun control. But at least we will have our military, and when all else fails we can just go kick everyone’s a$$ into submission, like Hitler tried to do, right???

    And as far as God is concerned, I could SWEAR to him/her that this right/left conservative/liberal BS is all just a trick on all you partisan fools to keep you divided and to keep things as they are- business as usual/rich=rich, poor=poor. Baaaahhhh! For shame, sheeple! Ask your own questions, find your own answers. Don’t trust the media to tell you how to feel because they serve their own masters who are different than yours. Their masters ARE NOT the liberals and ARE NOT the conservatives. Their [only] master is money and those that feed it to them!

    The outrage against Palin’s use of the subject words “Blood Libel” is overblown. The dems have plenty of other ammo to use against Caribou-Barbie. Like the fact that her entire platform, and that of her family’s could be defined as pure hypocrisy. Not to mention as Pamela has said, that she is a media whore.

    Keep on marching, you sheep!

  8. Pamela -  January 16, 2011 - 9:00 am

    I have been reading blogs on Sarah Palin since I knew who she was. What I find most interesting is how easy it is to sit back and watch the furor over this media whore! Real people, people who matter, intelligent, hard working, devoted Americans do NOT need defending. They stand on their own. It is hysterical that this simple-minded woman repeatedly and consistently and very deliberately opens her mouth, something unworthy inevitably flies out and then she sits back as do I and watches the show. She is not stupid. She is not scary. She is simply unworthy. She is like the ‘bearded lady’ in the circus when over on the other side of town schools are educating children, parents are working hard for their families, and businesses are delivering goods and services. When we need some entertainment we go to the ‘side show’. The people who defend her are like her and the people who are afraid of her needn’t be. God is still and always will be the great ‘Overseer’.

  9. conman -  January 15, 2011 - 5:37 pm

    So much finger-pointing, insulting, pretension, and arrogance. So many people with such high opinions of themselves and low opinions of others (and the opinions of others). Politics aside, it’s half-fascinating and half-disgusting to read many of these comments.

  10. DavidB -  January 14, 2011 - 1:52 pm


    “the only reason it’s being so blown out of proportion is because the phrase has a violent and negative connotation”

    … therefore she had no business saying it. People are trying to heal, not get all stirred up. I guess SP doesn’t care about anyone else but herself.

  11. Donny -  January 14, 2011 - 9:07 am

    President Palin sounds GREAT!

  12. Rich Durst -  January 14, 2011 - 6:21 am

    I don’t understand the reason for all this vitriol against Sarah Palin specifically. All the accusations I’ve seen leveled at her could just as easily be leveled against any number of other politicians and media personalities (as has been pointed out several times on this page). But whenever the “P word” comes up, the hatred and rage seem to get churned up all out of proportion.

    Bottom line, there is no moral ground for blaming anyone other than the shooter for his actions. He chose to pick up a gun and murder people. Nobody else pulled that trigger. Unless he was part of some organized conspiracy — which, given the man’s mental and social deficiencies, seems highly unlikely — the guilt for these actions falls entirely on him.

    Stop trying to excuse a monster by laying the blame on someone else.

  13. 2020now -  January 13, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    How’s that hate talk workin out for ya?

  14. Aporia -  January 13, 2011 - 6:22 pm

    Wow. “Hot Word” seems to apply greatly in this instance. This blog is quite popular.

    I may have found the “refudiate” incident to be slightly embarrassing, but I don’t see anything wrong with this one. It may not be a “kosher” application of the term (sorry, had to be done), it’s a pretty good one. After all, it’s only a metaphor, and the only reason it’s being so blown out of proportion is because the phrase has a violent and negative connotation, and media vultures will look for anything that can stir up some good ol’ controversy, and this little incident is just fresh meat to be picked.

  15. Dave -  January 13, 2011 - 5:23 pm

    President Palin sounds GREAT!

  16. Android -  January 13, 2011 - 3:55 pm

    Therefore the parents of the child and the victims of this crime should form a class action lawsuit against the media channels promoting this crap and the beast Sarah Palin!

  17. Deaner -  January 13, 2011 - 3:47 pm

    “Seriously? Do people have nothing better to do with their time and energy? You want to know what is adding vitriol to the political discourse? Political correctness. Can we please move on already from this stupid phase and get back to debating the actual core ideas involved–you know, the important stuff?”

    Ahem, Alex…that’s the point of this discussion. Why then did you step down from your pedestal and chime in?

  18. Elmer Stoup -  January 13, 2011 - 3:25 pm

    Larry: When Daily Kos was mad at Rep. Giffords and other Democratic reps, it posted an article listing their names and referred, very pointedly, that these folks were targets and in the bulls eye. Why is Palin scum of the earth for doing what Kos does?? The only answer is Palin Derangement Syndrome.

  19. me -  January 13, 2011 - 3:23 pm

    Hey Nate-

    “edumacate?” Maybe you should evaluate yourself before you make accusations against other people.

  20. Please answ -  January 13, 2011 - 3:11 pm

    What do you think?,
    ‘blood libel’ is an anti-semitic phrase or is there any other expression that could be considered anti-semitic from her?

  21. DavidB -  January 13, 2011 - 1:56 pm

    Her use of the term ‘blood libel’ is inflammatory, as was her gun-sight cross hairs fixed on Giffords. I mean come on, you don’t use an unusual term like that without finding out what it really means. I’m always using dictionary.com, when I come across unusual words.

    … and yes, she is scary, It’s scary that people have thoughts like she does, scary that she has any supporters, very scary to think what would become of this country if she every got anywhere near power. This woman is dangerous.

  22. KnowItAll -  January 13, 2011 - 1:54 pm

    Disregarding the typos that we all make from time to time, might I quietly suggest that some commentators spend more time studying a dictionary of English usage before they tackle more complex linguistic problems such as “blood libel.”

    Reason seems to have mistaken the adverb “there” for the pronoun “their.”

    Greg Holmgren has used the contraction “who’s” but based on context he seems to have intended to use the pronoun “whose.”

    David uses Dictionary.com because he loves words and wants to improve his understanding of them. Here’s a tip that may improve your understanding of the word “here”: it’s an adverb that means “in this place.” There is an expression that goes “hear, hear.” Look it up some time.

    nak *surely* misused the words “miss” and “used.”

    Tom Evans ought to use his words more responsibly.

    I hope there are more tidbits to be had. Snicker, snicker.

  23. Alex -  January 13, 2011 - 1:50 pm

    Seriously? Do people have nothing better to do with their time and energy? You want to know what is adding vitriol to the political discourse? Political correctness. Can we please move on already from this stupid phase and get back to debating the actual core ideas involved–you know, the important stuff?

  24. Rational Pragmatist -  January 13, 2011 - 1:48 pm

    Any US citizen taking Sarah Barracuda’s loose cannon big mouth seriously needs psychiatric observation. She’s a nutcase circus side show.

  25. Michael Horton -  January 13, 2011 - 1:47 pm

    Remember that Democrats have “flubbed” as well. (I think this is a bigger screw up than using “blood libel” out of context.)

    Sheila Jackson Lee (US Represenative for 25 years to Texas) stated we have two Vietnams. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK3rTUgoQD4

    Barack Obama somehow visted 57 states, but wasn;t permitted by his campaign team to visit Alaska or Hawaii. (Apparently germany was in the budget though.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpGH02DtIws&NR=1

    Hank Johnson (US Representative since 2007 for Georgia) beleives that Guam will capsize if we send 8000 marines there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNZczIgVXjg

  26. Deaner -  January 13, 2011 - 1:44 pm

    Additionally, you Palin-defenders should know that just because someone sees that polemicist for who she really is, that doesn’t make him/her a “liberal” or “leftie” or “socialist.” All one needs is a slight grasp on simple logic to understand that Sarah Palin cares only about Sarah Palin and will do and say anything to make money. I am a moderate, and most moderates understand this. I sincerely hope she wins the Republican nomination, because one cannot with the presidency without winning the moderate vote. She has zero chance of this.

  27. anonymous -  January 13, 2011 - 1:37 pm

    Perhaps there should be a new phrase that truly describes malapropisms: to Biden, or Bidenize. Speaking of bloopers, has anyone told our President that there aren’t 57 States?

  28. Android -  January 13, 2011 - 1:25 pm

    In the past 2 years everybody specially the main stream media has been focused so, hard on this beast named Sarah Palin. Images have circulated the INTERNET of her taking shots at innocent animals; deers, bears and so…on.

    The question is?

    Does she need meat to survive, oh right, it’s understandable; but doesn’t she know of a places called super markets? It’s place were she may purchase all the slater animals she wants. Oh no! This beast must glorify herself by the thrill of the kill of a defenseless animal.

    Suggestion, an innocent child had been murdered in the irresponsible dealings of the grown ups there in Arizona, it’s only fair to allocate the behavioral of the killer to the missed signals send by those on the media. The universe knows that humans are easy controlled through repeated signals and that is what took place here.

    Therefore the parents of the child and the victims of this crime should form a class action lawsuit against the media channels promoting this crap and the beast Sarah Palin.

    The nerve of the beast to now twist the input around and claim “blood libel” when she was the one sacrificing innocent animals for her look at me I am tough image.


  29. Freddo -  January 13, 2011 - 1:23 pm

    Whether or not Palin used the term correctly or in broad terms or not, or whether it is true that Loughner didn’t watch, read or listen to the news, something got to him. Why else would he had specifically gone to attempt to kill Rep. Gifford. He just picked her out of the blue? I don’t get it. Who knows? Perhaps, Loughner formulated his plan by hearing other people’s hate talk. People he may know.

    The fact is, you don’t have to go very far to know what’s going on, especially, what Palin has been saying. Just remember the raucous she started during the summer with the “death panel” lies. No man/woman is an island..every act and word affects everyone and thing around us. Palin is an incendiary personality. Just look at the controversy she’s ignited by using this term.

    The term has an distasteful meaning, and she used. Period.

  30. KnowItAll -  January 13, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Disregarding the typos that we all make from time to time, might I quietly suggest that some commentators spend more time studying a dictionary of English usage before they tackle more complex linguistic problems such as “blood libel.”

    Reason seems to have mistaken the adverb “there” for the pronoun “their.”

    Greg Holmgren has used the contraction “who’s” but based on context he seems to have intended to use the pronoun “whose.”

    David uses Dictionary.com because he loves words and wants to improve his understanding of them. Here’s a tip that may improve your understanding of the word “here”: it’s an adverb that means “in this place.” There is an expression that goes “hear, hear.” Look it up some time.

    nak surely misused the words “miss” and “used.”

    Tom Evans ought to use his words more responsibly.

    I hope there are more tidbits to be had. Snicker, snicker.

  31. Macon -  January 13, 2011 - 1:09 pm

    If you were being blamed for a massacre, however obliquely, you might call it a “blood libel.” Isn’t it? I think I would. People are reprehensible to say Palin had anything to do with the Arizona tragedy. Why don’t we pick on those people instead of Palin? Palin has become a convenient punching bag.

  32. David Turull -  January 13, 2011 - 1:04 pm

    I thought the phrase Sarah Palin used was “bloody libel”. You know like the British phrase “That’s bloody crazy” or “a bloody shame”. In that case she wouldn’t be talking about cannibalistic rituals but (according to Dictionary.com Unabridged) using the word “bloody” as an intensifier which is also said to be a slang use of the word “bloody”.

  33. shempus -  January 13, 2011 - 1:00 pm

    Though it is generally great fun to observe left a r d s heads exploding about ridiculous things, they are getting a bit overly wee-wee’d up on this one. I think we must forcibly remove them from their first ammendment rights. Vapid lemmings.

  34. Deaner -  January 13, 2011 - 12:49 pm

    First of all, since when is Alan Dershowitz an authority figure, and who exactly proclaimed him the mouthpiece of the Jewish people? This is the same man who wants to repeal Roe v. Wade and allow each state to decide whether or not abortion should be legal. This should tell you right there what side of the political debate he is on.

    Secondly, I think you Palin-worshipers should look up the definition of “ad hominem” on this very website, as you have no idea what it means. Palin has made a career of ad hominem attacks. Just because she regurgitates Fox News Talking Points doesn’t make them the gospel. And frankly, with Palin’s habitual slaughter of the English language, you should know better!

  35. Morgana -  January 13, 2011 - 12:43 pm

    What isn’t considered antisemitic these days? I think that if Jews could get away with it, they would consider Gentiles antisemitic just for existing . . .

    *eye roll*

  36. Patrick -  January 13, 2011 - 12:41 pm

    No political, religious or cultural sect owns any word or phrase of the English Language. The fact that this was an issue at all, shows the critical state of political correctness in America. Palin did a magnificent job with her speech.

  37. mb -  January 13, 2011 - 12:34 pm

    what a great service, you should create an entire section devoted to clarifying political wordplay…

  38. Rich Durst -  January 13, 2011 - 12:32 pm

    > Ashley on January 13, 2011 at 10:29 am
    > Why is she talking smack about AZ? The people of AZ did nothing to her
    > pesonally and we are a republican state. I don’t like that we are but
    > still that is just bull!!!!!!!!!!!!

    . . . Where do you get the idea that Sarah Palin is attacking you or your state?

    She was never “talking smack” about AZ. She was responding to particular people who have made public statements in the media. Statements that blame her for causing the murders with her political ads and rhetoric. Aside from the one sheriff who seems to have started this whole mess, I don’t know that any of them are from AZ to begin with.

    And even if some of the people involved are from Arizona, any issues she has with them in no way reflect on her opinion of your state as a whole.

  39. agkcrbs -  January 13, 2011 - 12:24 pm

    The only reason so many normal people support Palin is because so many abnormal people, trapped inside their little sloganized politics, ignorantly slander her, and the normals feel a duty to back her up. Left to herself, she would never have made such an impact.

    And this so-called “famous linguist” Deborah Tannen has betrayed the whole thrust of her literary career with her poorly researched semantic attack that was just falsified by poster Ronin.

    Things mean what they mean. You can’t accuse somebody of “bleaching” a term when their usage is closer to the original meaning of the elements than some far-off semantic derivation. Rather than constraining us, etymology frees us from the error-ridden encumbrances of tradition. “Refudiate” was simply wrong. “Blood libel”, and about 98% of Palin’s other quips, are perfectly appropriate, as well as clever.

  40. Esmerda -  January 13, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    This woman is a politician? And she wants to run the USA?
    God help us.

  41. Esmerda -  January 13, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    This woman is a politician? And she wants to run the USA?
    Gon help us.

  42. Tom Evans -  January 13, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    you know the New York times used that phrase first and Sarah just picked on it. Let’s try to be responcible. People who know better sometimes read this stuff.

  43. The Writing Goddess -  January 13, 2011 - 12:06 pm

    I appreciate that hotword is bringing attention and clarification to the term, but enough on SP already! I can’t wait for the day when they announce on the evening news: “Today, somewhere in America, there was a baby drinking milk, a dog licking his balls, and Sarah Palin saying something rather stupid, but no cameras or microphones recorded these epic events because THEY ARE NOT NEWS.”

  44. kerida admas -  January 13, 2011 - 11:56 am

    i love sarah palin because i look up to her she is beautiful and a caring person who wouldnt love her

  45. raphael martinez -  January 13, 2011 - 11:55 am

    Sarah Palin utilizes the language of smooth patriotic rhetoric that Ronald Reagan used. This language has the power and has turned American into a corporate criminal state. Nonsensical rhetorical language has the power to create policy and it is destroying the Republic. Language has allowed Corporatism to flourish and true Democracy to falter. Corporatism is not Democracy and language and propaganda (a form of persuasion) has convinced some Americans that it is. Language can take us to war and make peace, create legalize Ponzi scheme or say no all scheme, tax the supper rich or tax the poor. Sarah Palin’s use of language has invoked lies of what Democracy is, created a fear based belligerent constituency, which ultimately misconstrues profit over people. She is adding fuel to the fire of the demise of America’s Democracy by her nonsensical glorified patriotic rhetoric that challenges true democracy by not addressing real issue, in an era of economic collapse and ecological catastrophe in the favor of Plutocracy. The question is would God; want a society governed by and for the people, a democracy or a society governed by and for the wealthy, a Plutocracy. Language is being used to undermine Democracy and the greedy Plutocrats love Sarah. All you have to do is follow the money and ask yourself “where has the money gone” since Reagan. Is money flowing (trickling) to We The People or (gushing) towards Wall Street, Military Industrial Complex and a declining fossil fueled dependent Empire? Yes, language can bring about true democracy or bring about a collapse of civility.

  46. Pilgrim -  January 13, 2011 - 11:42 am

    This argument is CRAZY!
    Only idiots and haters can’t see that Sarah “dragged” into this bloody mess that was CLEARLY caused by a deranged, disconnected psycho. You haters would rather see her accept your sick blame, than defend herself.
    Giffords was pursued pre-Palin by psycho since 2007 for insane reasons.
    Palin’s is the “whipping girl” of people playing politics with murder.
    No doubt if any of you haters had your name brought up in association with this psycho, you’d be screaming f-bombs rather than “blood libel.”
    You haters need to learn the decency of grieving rather than blaming.
    “Blood libel” is offensive to you haters, because you are guilty of it.

  47. noname -  January 13, 2011 - 11:37 am

    Well, lots of people liked or like Obama and look at the mess he’s gotten us into. Go Sarah go!! After all, she’s only human. Aren’t we all?? So quit being so stinkin’ judgmental. Oh wait, that’s yet another HUMAN flaw….

  48. acbc -  January 13, 2011 - 11:37 am

    A politician has to be able to communicate with people. Words are all we have to communicate our thoughts and ideas. The power of words are to illuminate ideals and they influence people in ways we take for granted. Words are dangerous, like the “N” word; simple sentences like “I have a dream” INSIGHT motivations and action. all of our ideals come from words carefully put together that has guided cultures to rise and fall. Diplomacy is always carefully worded to bridge differences between countries and cultures. Do we dare allow a politician to lead the free world with so little control of her words?

  49. nak -  January 13, 2011 - 11:24 am

    Well for someone that has a big mouth shurely is getting alot of attention, and if you don’t like what she has to say maybe you should plug your ears,or maybe you should shut the —- –! that being said I can’t belive there’s so much controversy over “blood libel”, we as society need to get a life and stop picking on every little word people miss used. no one is perfect!

  50. Mike -  January 13, 2011 - 11:23 am

    The left wing liberals simply cannot stand a person, particularly a woman. Who will not get down on knees at the alter of the great one. Living on my feet is so much better than existing on my knees.

  51. Pamela -  January 13, 2011 - 11:20 am

    Sarah Palin is evil. She invites trouble with what she puts on her website. She lies. She controls the media 100%. She knew what she was doing with the cross hairs, she knew what she was doing when she lied about ‘death panels’. She knew what she was saying when she spoke ‘blood libel’ and she will continue to rule as long as people let her. As far as I’m concerned, it is SHE who should be laying in that hospital bed! But the same way that Anne Coulter got her judgement, and Glenn Beck got his, so too will she and Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and all the rest of the repukes who incite anger, violence and outright bold-faced LIES!!

  52. Larry -  January 13, 2011 - 11:17 am

    How can Ms Palin claim to absolve herself from any responsibility when last March she depicted a rifle scope ‘cross-hairs’ on Rep Gifford’s district and urged her followers “Don’t retreat…reload”. If that’s not inciting violence then what is?

  53. JB -  January 13, 2011 - 11:15 am

    Palin’s a vile, hateful, hypocritical and wretched person. A professional celebrity on the level of Heidi Montag. A complete joke and a sad one at that.

  54. sherri -  January 13, 2011 - 11:01 am

    Why hate? Just because someone sees things differently from you might have something to do with their perspective and experiences in life. Listen to what they say, compare it to what you understand and try to see that they could be right in some sense and then re-evaluate what you think you understand about the situation. This world is big enough for more than one view. Truth doesn’t have an agenda.Seek the truth and base your beliefs on the truth.Love and respect others.

  55. floydpinked -  January 13, 2011 - 10:48 am

    My children have better grammar than Sarah (im)Palin (the english language when she speaks). I don’t care whether she’s republican or democrat, someone in the position she is in, should understand more about the language than most people. She is a politician, if she can’t speak right to us, how the hell do you expect to send her overseas and NOT start a war with some asinine comment. Or better yet, the next time she shoots off her mouth, what is to prevent her from calling all of us nazis?

  56. Daniel -  January 13, 2011 - 10:45 am

    Eyewitness, all that effort and you spelled “me” wrong! Priceless :)

    I can only marvel at all of this Palin angst. She is quite a diversion and a God send for the political class. They couldn’t hope for a better tool to distract us from the last 40 years of criminal congressional malfeasance. Instead of prosecuting the politicians for their misdeeds, we are bitterly defending them because we have divided ourselves into malleable groups that are easily misled into thinking it is the “other party’s” fault. With trillions of dollars of debt and trillions more on the way, this country cannot endure more of the same.

    We should all be asking ourselves some serious questions about what we really value and stop deluding ourselves into thinking that there can actually be a winner in a moot argument. In this context the loudest and most passionate voices are merely intellectual sheep in wolves’ clothing. There is no prize for besting and idiot. Maybe I’m wrong, but if you were repeatedly robbed and assaulted by two different guys over the last forty years, would you really want to trust either of them?

  57. SOISSONS -  January 13, 2011 - 10:44 am

    Sarah Palin must be doing something right to piss off so many leftist. I’ll vote for her if she runs for president.

  58. Libby DeRoo -  January 13, 2011 - 10:43 am

    Sarah Palin should be IGNORED. Maybe she’ll go away. Surely by now she realizes she’s better at watching Russia from her kitchen window than engaging in politics. Keep her in Alaska where she can’t do too much harm. She’s just too stupid for words, as she’s proven time and time again!!

  59. Ashley -  January 13, 2011 - 10:29 am

    Why is she talking smack about AZ? The people of AZ did nothing to her pesonally and we are a republican state. I don’t like that we are but still that is just bull!!!!!!!!!!!!

  60. donron -  January 13, 2011 - 10:23 am

    Media corporations keep Palin relevant because they want her campaign ad money if she decides at a run for the presidency in 2012. Thankfully, she has no realistic chance of winning. Never had, never will.

  61. guess who -  January 13, 2011 - 10:17 am

    hey nate,
    when you said ‘edumacation,’ I wasn’t sure if you were referring to Palin or Bush. :-)

  62. Rich Durst -  January 13, 2011 - 10:10 am

    We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. A sick, evil man did a terrible, evil thing, and the families of his victims are left trying to pick up the pieces. That’s what the story should be about.

    The man who did this was a psychopath, with no ties to Palin or any other political entity. He was a registered independent who didn’t vote in the last election, and had been nursing an obsession with Congresswoman Giffords since 2007, having sent multiple threatening messages to her in that time span. He had apparently been picked up by the police on at least one occasion for illegal drugs, but later released without charge. He had a history of making disruptive and irrational outbursts in class, causing him to eventually be expelled from community college because teachers and students felt threatened by his presence.

    Mr. Loughner is a depraved individual who needs serious help. He is not Republican, Democrat, or Tea Party, he is simply crazy. President Obama and Sarah Palin were both right when they said the political finger-pointing needs to stop, so we as a nation can deal with this tragedy and move forward to make things better.

  63. Bob Beazley -  January 13, 2011 - 10:10 am

    What does the term mean? It means we have yet another insight into this woman’s seemingly boundless ignorance, that’s what it means.

  64. Ed -  January 13, 2011 - 9:57 am

    If you think Sarah had any idea what she was talking about, think again.

  65. Reason -  January 13, 2011 - 9:55 am


    All the concern about how the definition of Blood Libel has changed!

    Let me give you an example of other words that have changed over time.

    Racist used to be resereved for individuals prejudiced against another simply due to their skin color.

    Racist now can be anybody who believes that Obamacare is a HUGE mistake, but is only because Obama is half black and half white.

    Words evolve, admit it. Get off your stupid soapbox defending word evolution of blood libel, only because it supports your political motivation to attack Sarah Palin. Why not try attacking her policies like the “racists” are doing relative to Obama’s policies!

    Boy Obama sure has brought together the Red and the Blue huh? He is doing just what he said he would do. It is not Red, it is not Blue, it is Red White and Blue. hahaha. He was going to end all the bitternes in politics. Liberals are so gullible.

  66. CRASHNBURN -  January 13, 2011 - 9:53 am

    Palin for President c”,)

  67. Elmer Stoup -  January 13, 2011 - 9:53 am

    Plenty of commentators, left and right, have used the phrase “blood libel” in recent years. Nobody said anything. Sarah Palin uses the phrase and the usual leftwing suspects go nuts. Believe this flap says more about her detractors than it does about Palin.

  68. Reason -  January 13, 2011 - 9:46 am

    I misspoke. All of Obama supporters are not just those with misplaced arrogance and sheltered ignorance. Trial lawyers and Ambulance Chasers are strong Obama supporters as well. BTW…How is that commission going that Obama set up to investigate the effect of tort reform on health care costs? If you remember, that is a compromise that Obama made to the republicans for their support of the health care bill. Obama didn’t believe that tort reform would have much impact, but he was going to set up a group to look at it?

    I wonder if Obama was just making that stuff up about a commission to review?

  69. Elissa Sangi -  January 13, 2011 - 9:41 am

    Getting off this political subject, for a change & for a little bit, I want to thank Dictionary.com for their intent for the correct usage of a word or phrase. Dict.com taught me the correct usage for the word nauseous. One doesn’t say,”I feel nauseous.”. The correct usage is to say ‘nauseated’; “I feel or I am nauseated.”. This is only one of the benefits I receive,everyday, from Dict.com. Thanks Dictionary.com for providing so much knowledge for the public. Everybody should have this site on their computer and utilize its’ information everyday. Parents should have their children read it everyday, because with this site comes unbeatable knowledge for the old and the young.

  70. Donny -  January 13, 2011 - 9:39 am

    President Palin sounds GREAT

  71. Reason -  January 13, 2011 - 9:37 am

    What is this really?

    This is really about Liberals running scared from the last election. They have no way to explain why they were so denounced. Therefore, rather than trying to understand what happened, they take the first opportunity to discredit the movement as hatred-based. Oh…somebody gets shot in Arizona, oh this is all because people are whipped up about how bad the government is. What the unstated message is that anti-Obama big govt isn’t legitimate and it is only based on irrational diatribe from the right.

    Who blamed Jodie Foster for Ronald Reagan getting shot? Nobody! The same is true with this nut job. This guy is so deranged, you can’t say that anything anybody does has any bearing on what he does. He is mentally ill.

    It is time for the Liberals to understand, the health care debacle with that is causing a majority of Americans a lot of disruption. As Liberals you typically assume you know better than the majority of Americans. You think you know other Americans so well you can completely explain their motives. Blaming Sarah Palin for what happened to the Congresswoman is nothing but misplaced arrogance and sheltered ignorance. Wow, what a concidence, that is the same profile for Obama voters.

  72. cam234 -  January 13, 2011 - 9:32 am

    Don’t forget AJ that the demoncrats used the Bullseyes on a Map in 2004, but I guess that is ok. The thing that cracks me up the most about the whole Palin fad is why does the media go after her so hard if supposedly they are not worried about her. I’m not a fan of hers but she is entitled to defend herself especially when they try to lay blame on her. But, she is right the actions are on the person not the politician. Plus, the more the media focuses on her, the real Republican candidate can just sit back and wait until the election, she will take the heat for him. Oh and I would love to see a debate between her and Obama, all she would have to make is one condition, no teleprompters and whe would win easy, Can you say stutter, Mr. Obama!

  73. letitbe -  January 13, 2011 - 9:22 am

    When you assumed semetic bleaching, you went over the line with Tannen.

    No. 1. The attack was totally blind to those on the left targeting only Palin. They hung Bush, decapitated him, painted swatiskas on him…so if there is blood libel it’s on the left! The term “War Room” with Paul Begala, James Carvel and Bill Clinton???? That’s tolerated on the right.
    Accusing the right of murdering and planning mass murder is not and Palin should have spoken out.

    No. 2. The term blood libel was in context to the news using her as the scape goat of a mad man, who had signed up as a Independent and didn’t even bother to vote in the last election.

    No. 3 I never thought a Dictionary could be so politically left leaning!

  74. Thom Burke -  January 13, 2011 - 9:20 am

    The Left knew they blew it when they realized that a majority of Americans were repulsed and disgusted by their attempt to “spin the Tucson shooting” against the Tea party and Sarah Palin.

    So now they’re trying to change the subject, splitting hairs over a phrase they’ve never even heard of before yesterday. Mindless hypocrites denounce Palin (without evidence) for using hate speech and in the same breath vow their own eternal hatred. Sickening.

  75. Zack McCracken -  January 13, 2011 - 9:19 am

    The liberal hatred for conservatives runs pretty deep, it seems. Have none of you stupid libs heard your mama say “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”?

    Sarah Palin is no better or worse than any other politician… Focus your misguided anger somewhere else. Learn to play the guitar or something. Nincompoops.

  76. Roxanne -  January 13, 2011 - 9:12 am

    Although some words become “bleached” (for instance “awesome”), it’s important to maintain the intensity that some words have. Our language and our visual imagery is so vivid (to put it mildly) that we run the risk of having such words become meaningless, and then anger and awe and ecstasy will be meaningless. As I told my young daughter as I dragged her out of a room where someone swearing wildly, people use swear words when they can’t think of any other way to let people know they’re angry. It’s important not to take the easy, swearing, way out.
    Therefore I try never to use the word Nazi for anything that has to with with something other that calculated, demonic genocide. The same should be true of phrases like “blood libel.” “Libel” would have been sufficient in this case. Incidentally, ‘holocaust’ in Greek means the act of burning something entirely, and it was originally used for certain animal sacrifices. It wasn’t used for the WW II Holocaust until, I believe, that slaughter was over.
    I’m a liberal, and I would love to debate any issue with a Tea Partyer, using regular words: the problem is that both sides call each other names too much for anyone to understand anyone else. And that’s bad, because I know that I love my home state, its rivers and woods and towns and coastline, and my red-white-and-blue Constitution-endowed home country as much as any Tea Partyer does.

  77. AJ -  January 13, 2011 - 9:07 am

    Sarah Palin has a big mouth, and she needs to learn when to keep it closed. Her “reload” targets with crosshairs over Gifford’s district were taken down following the shooting, telling us all that she, or her advisors, felt a twinge of guilt and remorse, or were trying to save-face after the fact. That was enough. You need not say more. But like all good idiots in the spotlight, she kept talking. And she wonders why people pick on the things that come out of her mouth. If she’d shut it, we could all sleep a little better.

  78. Ronin -  January 13, 2011 - 8:59 am

    Btw, check out Wiktionary which does a much better job of defining the various uses of “Blood Libel”, and shows examples of how it’s been used (as far back as 1989) in the same way Palin used it this week.

  79. Farmer Zeke -  January 13, 2011 - 8:55 am

    “Mike on January 13, 2011 at 7:25 am
    Just reading some of the comments on this page shows how Obama was elected. Palin is far above Obama and his leftist bunch of hate driven people. It is also sad to see this dictionary fully does not understand the term. Another out for the left to use a horrible even and spread lies and use their media to spread hate. Waste of time because most reading this can’t understand or are willing not to. That GOD for Sarah Plain.”

    Huh? What God?

    “Another out for the left to use a horrible even and spread lies and use their media to spread hate. ”
    What the heck does this supposed to mean?

    No wonder he doesn’t like Dictionary.com! He probably just stumbled across this page while searching for sexy pictures of Palin!

  80. Toni Annette -  January 13, 2011 - 8:42 am

    First, Ms.Palin needs to admit that both she and her speech writers are ignorant of Jewish history and the deep sentiments resulting from horrors experienced by the Jewish people. Then, Sarah needs to confess her ignorance of Christian history and its inseparable roots with the Jewish nation. Finally, Sarah Palin should spend more time learning the history of her professed faith which would provide a more solid foundation for her ambitions of public service. When voters become convinced that she is well informed and able to make intelligent decisions that generate peace and prosperity for the majority of Americans, ONLY THEN does she deserve our partriotic support.

  81. Nina Paules -  January 13, 2011 - 8:39 am

    It is sad that our Nation would rather engage in fruitless playground mudslinging than putting shoulder to the wheel and repairing our economy. Mud does nothing but sit, soak, stink and sour. The men and women who actively fought and died so that we might live free deserve more than that from us. Come on America! Do what you do best; make the world a better and safer place. Doing any less will truly be blood libel.

  82. Randy -  January 13, 2011 - 8:33 am

    It was the leftist liberal lunatics that evoked Sarah Palin’s name in connection with the tragedy in Tucson. I don’t blame her one bit for going after those a holes with what every words she wants to use. Politizing a tragedy for gain or bashing an opp0nent is reprehensible.

  83. David -  January 13, 2011 - 8:24 am

    I believe the word “holocaust” had a meaning (to completely consume by fire) before the events of the 1930′s and 40′s changed the meaning to be connected to those events. Similar to “ground zero” which technically is the place on the ground directly under a nuclear explosion, which in the only two war time uses of the weapon ocurred some distance above the ground (ground+ some distance) to maximize the destructive effect. Ground Zero would be the place on the surface of the earth experiencing the greatest destructive force. Metaphores are tricky…

  84. VocaldroidAAB -  January 13, 2011 - 8:18 am

    It is really sad how far left the media has tipped. The only reason the Democrats keep attacking her is because they percieve her as a threat. They have always vicioulsy attacked those who were percieved as threats and always will. Im honestly one who agrees with some things on both sides, but I have to say that both parties have changed from their origins. If this was a forum for political slander, then I would gladly say that Hillary Clinton is sardonic. The only reason you attack Mrs. Palin is because the left wing takes the lead in that. I also found it quite bizzare how Obama pronounced corpsman as “corpse man” and no one said one word about it when he is the leader of this nation.

  85. myother -  January 13, 2011 - 8:18 am

    Do you not mean that “the Liberials are unaware of blood libel’s historical meaning”?

  86. Eric -  January 13, 2011 - 8:15 am

    Based on the explanation of this article, it would seem to any objective reader that Sarah Palin’s irrational haters are doing precisely what the term describes, though the lynching is done in a non-physical way. Why are people (and especially the media) criticizing the victim of libel rather than the perpetrators? Could it be because the media is itself the perpetrator? Or has Americans at large have lost all ability to understand simple logic?

  87. p -  January 13, 2011 - 8:04 am

    Let’s focus on the real issue here violence, everyone should have their own opion but they shouldn’t push your views and horrible thoughts on to someone else. Lets try to get along, we can make this a better place if we all try. There is no reason to belittle or degrade someone just for their views. Everyone should listen to that song from Garth Brooks “we shall be free” and maybe just maybe we could start acting like the song says and we could be just a little happier. May GOD be with you all.

  88. Marilyn -  January 13, 2011 - 7:58 am

    Seems like no one heard the President of the United States asking us to cool our jets last night. Why can’t we stop this discussion? Let’s reign in the terror on a personal level.

  89. Alan Turner -  January 13, 2011 - 7:57 am

    Sarah Palin will have a longer and more successful career in TV comedy than she will in politics

  90. CS -  January 13, 2011 - 7:50 am

    Since when is vitriol an “unusual” word? You’re joking, right?

  91. Christopher -  January 13, 2011 - 7:40 am

    I love how Obama pronounced corpsman as corpse man. and no one raised and eyebrow. And hes the commander in chief!

  92. Dan -  January 13, 2011 - 7:40 am

    Well its clear that Sarah and her advisors are either really dumb and dont know what the word means or that she used it on purpose. Either way is scary. Or prehaps, she used the word in this way on purpose, but rather than to promote her political viability to kill it, maybe she wants to use it to get out of the presidential running and jus stay in her crazy right-wing world. Why else would a smart person use such a word on purpose?

  93. Elling -  January 13, 2011 - 7:33 am

    Don’t you liberals have anything better to talk about? Like your 6000 earmarks in your $1,000,000,000,000 spending bill? Or how about increasing our national debt $6 trillion in 6 years? Or how about how Mrs. Demagogue Pelosi claims that 96 weeks of unemployment is a great job creator? Your failed economic policies have much greater damage than one politian using a term out of context.

  94. Debbie -  January 13, 2011 - 7:31 am

    Dear Aghast,

    IT IS VERY IMPORTANT to remember what blood libel means. Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. We would NEVER want “blood libel” to happen again, for the Jews, or for the Untouchables, or for democrats, or for republicans, or for any other group of people. Mike wrote about the historical background for blood libel, that they would take the blood of Christian children to put in their holy bread. The way this reprehensible libel reads; children would be kidnapped, put into a barrel that thas been lined with nails pounded in from the outside so the spiked side is inside, close the barrel, and collect the blood drippings. Absolutely horrible.
    As a side note, I am conservative, and share the same views (generally) as Sarah Palin. AND I KNOW WHAT BLOOD LIBEL IS. It is obvious some of the people who has commented here has NEVER met a conservative, if you think we are an unwashed, unread mass of people blindly following someone. We believe as strongly in the principles of conservatism, for very good, well thought out reasons, as much as those supporting liberalism do.

  95. Mike -  January 13, 2011 - 7:25 am

    Just reading some of the comments on this page shows how Obama was elected. Palin is far above Obama and his leftist bunch of hate driven people. It is also sad to see this dictionary fully does not understand the term. Another out for the left to use a horrible even and spread lies and use their media to spread hate. Waste of time because most reading this can’t understand or are willing not to. That GOD for Sarah Plain.

  96. irene abad -  January 13, 2011 - 7:24 am

    Sara Palin is like the famous talking dog, while one is amazed it can talk, one does not need to listen to what it says.

  97. Jay -  January 13, 2011 - 7:23 am

    “Chana on January 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm
    Obama’s message: It’s about us.
    Sarah Palin’s message: It’s about me.
    Big difference.”

    you are absolutely correct when she spoke about her daughter losing dancing with the stars she wined about her enemies taking their hate out on her daughter.
    i would have just congratulated my daughter on how far she had come and it would have been over

  98. Sarpedon -  January 13, 2011 - 7:20 am

    The link for “Malapropism” is not working.

  99. markv -  January 13, 2011 - 7:16 am

    Instead of further propogating Palin’s artifically proplonged relevency, i would much rather know “why we park on driveways, but drive on parkways.”

  100. Dana -  January 13, 2011 - 7:11 am

    In the long run, words are just words. The actions of people truly demonstrate the meaning. On the other hand I am responsible for how I interpret what I hear and if I choose to be offended. I am still trying to discover the new meanings for the words “Hope” and “Change”. So far I’m not happy with what I have found.

  101. Ronin -  January 13, 2011 - 7:07 am

    Well, whadddaya know, Liberals read an article like this and still misunderstand what it’s saying. Of course, the writer of the article contributes to that, by tacking on the relevant point at the end instead of making it central to the discussion:

    “…a word or term with a specialized meaning takes on a more generalized set of associations with time…”

    THIS IS WHAT LANGUAGES DO. We go from a primary or literal meaning, to secondary or figurative meanings. But even here, on a reputed DICTIONARY site, credence is given to the PUNDITS first (and then only the ones libeling Sarah to begin with), before revealing what the Linguist has to say:

    “the term may simply be thought to mean ‘a false accusation regarding responsibility for harm to others.’ ”

    Exactly how Sarah Palin used it, and she is exactly right.

    Sorry, “The Hot Word”, but once again you’ve failed in your supposed attempts to present the facts, to be “a source for authority regarding words – not political actions or opinions”. You came closer than usual, but as you can see from the comments here, many people totally missed the point.

    Next time present the linguistic information first, without muddying the waters ahead of time with what the Pundits have to say. By writing this the way you did, you managed to imply that she had used the phrase incorrectly. But as several here have pointed out (and as the article itself grudgingly admits), there was nothing wrong with how she used it.

  102. a -  January 13, 2011 - 7:07 am

    maree on January 12, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Sounds like some folks are scared of a conservative woman.

    OH SNAP! yes you did go there.

  103. Rich -  January 13, 2011 - 7:03 am

    I think this is nothing more than political correctness run amok. Liberal pundits and the most of the media have been targeting Sarah Palin with negative attacks almost week to week since the last election because they see her as a threat in 2012. Don’t ask me why because I don’t think she’ll even run. But their attempt to associate her with the shooting last weekend demonstrates this perfectly. Even if she didn’t use the word “blood libel” in her speech, then the other side would have found something else to gripe about. Lighten up people!

  104. Donnyboy -  January 13, 2011 - 6:58 am

    You all misunderstand Sarah Palin.She knows full well what the meaning is because she waited four days before making a public statement in defense of her being libeled.She is a political figure and makes calculated statements.Blood libel was used by Murtha when describing his ignorant accusation of US troops killing innocent people in Iraq years back.Palin is merely using the same term a Democrat used.The difference is that when a Democrat uses or misuses a word or makes a mistake in speech,the media ignore it and when a conservative uses the very same word in a similar situation the media rush to condemn.I believe she fully understood the terms meaning before she used it.I doubt most of you on here are informed as well as her on its correct usage.
    Time to step back and examine our own thinking in a critical way before we make judgments.

  105. Richard Beach -  January 13, 2011 - 6:57 am

    Obama once used words like “corps” (with a pronounced p) and “epancipate.” What do these words mean?

  106. David -  January 13, 2011 - 6:53 am

    In response to Carlo’s comment above. HERE, HERE!!!!! I subscribed to Dictionary.com because I love words and want to improve my understanding of them. I did not expect that the blog would be as political as it has become. I would likew the would-be politicians to stick to political blogs and leave those of us with other interests alone. I may have to switch to another “linguistic” web site

  107. DaFinn -  January 13, 2011 - 6:43 am

    I find it baffling that the assumption is made that Sarah Palin did not know what she was saying. I believe she knew exactly what her words meant and used them precisely.

    On the topic of intelligence brought up by “trashcan”; what has Obama done and/or how has his actions displayed anything to merit the honorific “intelligent”?

  108. Gman -  January 13, 2011 - 6:43 am

    Dictionary.com should be more careful in its interpretation. Here is a more thoughtful explanation, according to Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz:

    The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report.

    There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.

  109. Steve -  January 13, 2011 - 6:38 am

    If the term refers to “human sacrifice” and that the “blood of victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism.” how was it used in the correct context here? Perhaps a greater degree of clarification would be beneficial for those of us who cannot see the connection between the actions of a person not receiving care for mental illness and a concerted conscious action of a group.

  110. mo -  January 13, 2011 - 6:34 am

    While it may be a heavy blow to believe so many people don’t hold to your opinion, you don’t look any more intelligent by calling them stupid. President Obama stated during his campaign that he visited 57 states. Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn’t know what was in the bill until it passed. If people on this thread can’t type a paragraph without a typo, why be so harsh on people who misspeak on occasion? If you disagree with a politician, just disagree and vote accordingly.

  111. keepcalm -  January 13, 2011 - 6:32 am

    Stop giving the creaturea ANY press at all. If we never hear her name again, it will be too soon. keepcalm

  112. Cindy -  January 13, 2011 - 6:22 am

    It seems as if a woman making a comment about a horrific event is receiving more condemnation than the actual perpetrator of the event. Something is very wrong with this logic. I logged on to Dictionary.com this morning and was immediately bombarded with more hatred. All I really wanted was to look up an innocent word that had nothing to do with what all the pundits of late are spewing. It would have been so easy to simply give a historical meaning to the word without subjecting us to your obviously bias political viewpoint. I am with Carlo and have now removed Dictionary.com from my favorites and replaced it with Merriam Webster.com.

  113. Ravenscroft -  January 13, 2011 - 6:21 am

    Thank god for the right wing……..they brought us bush…..quayle…..and now palin. I think the new republican masthead should be…….republicans…..bad politics…..endless entertainment…..or….create a game show……american idiot……they could be the judges…..dic.com would have to start a new site for all the word mashes they would create. There are so many smart well grounded republicans…..why don’t you guys have one of them run…..really…..palin is the best you got….she’s it…..really?

  114. Easycure -  January 13, 2011 - 6:19 am

    She wasn’t the first to use it in response to the shooting in Tucson (search Twitter, you’ll see)…she’s just the first person to use it correctly.

    The reason that people hate Sarah Palin is because she’s exactly what those people don’t like: a family oriented person, honest, blunt, and politically conservative. She’s exactly what the country needs to counter balance this recent episode of “Liberals Gone Wild”.

  115. Tatum -  January 13, 2011 - 6:15 am

    People are upset because they enjoy being upset with Sara Palin. It’s phony outrage meant to interfere with her message.

  116. VegasChris -  January 13, 2011 - 5:57 am

    “She is a real woman who is better qualified to be President than Barack Obama. And it shows.”

    Really?? In an interview done soon after learning she was going to be McCain’s running mate, by a local TV station I believe, she admitted to not really understanding the role of the Vice-President. This was well before she began doing interviews with the major news outlets while out on the campaign trail. Did she bother doing just a tiny bit of research on the subject? No, as evidenced by her visit to an elementary school classroom where she blew it again when a child asked her what duties the VP performs. (This reminded me of Dan Quayle’s classroom visit where he proved he couldn’t spell the word potato) With information being literally just a few clicks away, there is no excuse for her not knowing the right answer — an answer a vast majority of high school students would know. And then there were the crib notes she had scrawled on her palm which she referred to during another interview. And let’s not forget how she loves to boast about not using a teleprompter. Hey, why use a teleprompter when you can resort to juvenile stunts? With behavior like that I can see why it took her five different colleges in six years before she earned her degree. Then to really show off her political skills, she QUIT in the middle of her term as governor. Alaska is the least populated state in the Union. Just how difficult could her job have been? You know full well I’m not making this stuff up. So where is the so-called substance she supposedly possesses?

    “…i have no idea why Palin receives so much flack compared to other politicians.”

    I believe I have adequately stated a few examples of why she receives so much flack. To be blunt, Palin has amply demonstrated she simply does not have what it takes to hold a high office. If Sara Palin were a man, with all else being equal, she would have faded from view in a matter of months after the election was lost. Her supporters are more enthralled with what’s between her legs than what’s behind her ears. By the way, proper language usage DOES matter when you are vying to become the face of the most powerful nation on the planet.

  117. Leren -  January 13, 2011 - 5:47 am

    And She used it right. End of story; you other people who don’t believe it just wet your pants when she said it.

    Bye now :)

  118. John -  January 13, 2011 - 5:45 am

    Make no Mistake

    Ms Palin is very calculating in her approach. Those that have seen her back stage versus on Stage will attest that she is shrewd and very aware. Watch for more controversy… That’s how she and her friends in the media make money

  119. Judge Deborah -  January 13, 2011 - 5:44 am

    Go, Sarah, Go! We loved being part of your family on TLC on Sarah Palin’s Alaska. We believe in the moral principles you so bravely speak up about. You have as much right as any of us to talk about God, family and country, just like Benjamin Franklin or Samuel Adams or George Washington did.

    It’s just too bad that they don’t still teach in public school that our Founding Fathers all quoted the Bible 1/3 of the time in their writings or that all colleges started out as Christian colleges with daily Bible reading, public devotions and required student prayer.

    That truth will knock the socks off of collegiate students who look down their noses at the uneducated masses who home schooled their children. Why do college graduates think they are smarter than the rest of us?

  120. PoetsReach -  January 13, 2011 - 5:43 am

    I doubt that her “handlers” are all ignorant of the history and connotations associated with the phrase. Sarah Palin’s career lives on sensationalism, with out controversy people would loos interest in her. It is truly sad that people in this country are willing to listen to someone who is willing to make a speech that they are handed, when they obviously do not understand every thing in it. It is disappointing that someone in her position can afford to be indifferent when it comes to the words that they say and what they actually mean.

  121. Annoy -  January 13, 2011 - 5:36 am

    People….people….people, I’ve never seen so much hate on one woman just cause she is a older hot woman. Men hate them cause they can’t have her & the women hate her cause they want to be her, just sad.

  122. Mark -  January 13, 2011 - 5:34 am

    Mike, I completely concur with you. I am also a Jew and, if anything, I take offense to the media’s falicious representation of what I am supposed to feel. This whole episode simply elucidates our current situation: The bullies on the left keep pushing but the American people aren’t buying it.

  123. collhic -  January 13, 2011 - 5:22 am

    Hey “Eyewitness”, you definitely have a good “eye.” It certainly tickles the funny bone that in the very article dictionary.com uses to cast doubt on Palin’s use of ‘blood libel”, the writer completely misuses the word “excluded” in the third paragraph. Glass houses all around…

  124. Ty Falco -  January 13, 2011 - 5:03 am

    It is time to retire the circus side show act known as Palin and start thinking about real Presidential candidates such as Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana. You can see by his long track record that he gets results. All that Palin has done besides enriching herself through publicity stunts is to serve a partial term as Governor of Alaska.

  125. Ty Falco -  January 13, 2011 - 5:03 am

    It is time to retire the circus side show act know as Palin and start thinking about real Presidential candidates such as Mitch Daniels, governor or Indiana. You can see by his long track record that he gets results. All that Palin has done besides enriching herself through publicity stunts is to serve a partial term as Governor of Alaska.

  126. Theron -  January 13, 2011 - 4:50 am

    How can one utter a word or a phrase in a prepared text which one does not know the meaning of or the appropriate context in which it is used?

    More importantly, why is Ms Palin’s every utterance reported so immediately and repeatedly, and with such discussion by the so-called press? She’s not an elected official, government or business leader, nor someone who seeks to solve our national or international problems with thought-out solutions. Phrases and catch words from any political party or group do not constitute policy formulations.

    Finally, what is the purpose of this incendiary rhetoric on all sides of the political spectrum? Of course it is to obtain and maintain power. But for what ends?

  127. Jeffrey Tennant, MD -  January 13, 2011 - 4:48 am

    I think most Jews know what the phrase “blood libel” means. I doubt that Gov. Palin knew of the history of the phrase. My conclusion is that she is not Jewish. What else is new?

  128. Ron -  January 13, 2011 - 4:34 am

    The whole point of the criticism against Palin is this: at a time when the nation is questioning the value of uncivil discourse and heated rhetoric, here comes Palin with more incendiary and careless language. Whether it’s a mistake or by design makes no difference. Either way it calls into question her ability to lead.

  129. James Dietrich -  January 13, 2011 - 4:24 am

    Why all this hysterical fuss over the latest Sarah Palin act of ignorance? There have been many before, many to come, and her followers will continue to bathe in and bow to her brand of politics. Ultimately, for me, she’s not interesting enough for her words to deserve of all this debate. I’m only jumping in because I’ve already had 3 cups of coffee before 6:30 am. Sarah Palin is no more responsible for these killings than I am. All that said, matzoh with blood??? Ewwwweee. Matzoh tastes bad enough as it is, (unless you cook it up with eggs and top it with a little real maple syrup.) I knew my people were accused of many things, but making unleavened blood toast with Christian babies? That’s a new one for me. What will they think of next? (Oh the imagination runs wild with what one can do with the phrase “Baked Alaska.” Honestly, let’s give poor Sarah a break. She’s a “special needs” adult.

  130. Francisco -  January 13, 2011 - 3:57 am

    Hello friends, I am afraid that is the author of this article who is absolutely wrong.

    Precisely the meaning of “Blood libel” refers to the false accusations on Jews and it is quite appropriate for the intentions of people trying to instille hate on Sarah.

  131. Amused -  January 13, 2011 - 3:56 am

    BTW – Miss Europe…

    You do know that Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her backyard, right? That was purely a Tina Fey convention, and it was funny at the time… Somehow, liberals who decided not to fact check attributed that statement to her – because they wanted to believe it was true.

  132. Amused -  January 13, 2011 - 3:44 am

    This is really just a case of liberals looking for any reason to prove that Sarah Palin is an idiot/bigot, whatever….

    The linguist quoted in the definition above states “the term may simply be thought to mean “a false accusation regarding responsibility for harm to others”". I bet the majority of liberals that are disagreeing above had to look the term up first… and then drew their conclusions based on what it means. (That’s why this debate is being carried out at dictionary.com)

    The complaint that Sarah has once again made a news story all about her, is laughable. She didn’t interject herself into this story… It was every liberal pundit that immediately decided that Palin was an accessory. What a bunch of tools.

  133. Wordnut -  January 13, 2011 - 3:31 am

    @ Eyewitness! USAGE IN QUESTION (sorry it’s a long scroll to the top of the page) “Its use is nearly always “excluded to” sensationalized accusations and high emotions.”

    I think this novel usage is nothing more than a phrasal, well-coined by the writer, as i think he meant to point to the exclusion of the word from ‘productive’ discussion by “non-sensationalistic/rational” interlocutors. I’m sure it’s the same as the word “exile”, the standard meaning being, cast out from, but also used to convey “to where/the assigned place of exile, e.g., Napoleon was “exiled to” Elba… yes? no? Oh well I tried….

  134. Anonymous -  January 13, 2011 - 3:27 am

    To those defending Sarah Palin’s use of the word, and bringing up Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, I highly, HIGHLY doubt she even knew what it meant to even begin to go that far in depth with the word. This is the woman who has quit everything she’s ever begun, including a job that was given to her by Fox News because she thought it was too hard. This is also the woman who said she “hoarded” P’s and Q’s in Scrabble when there are only one P and Q in the game. This is also the wo.. well you get the point. The woman isn’t especially the brightest light bulb that you can buy,.. but if you’re interested in partaking in her wisdom.. I’ve got a bridge you can buy that she was also interested in.

  135. Anthony Fantacone -  January 13, 2011 - 2:24 am

    Who is Sarah Palin?

  136. LMAO!!! -  January 13, 2011 - 12:41 am

    “Throughout history , these claims have been frequently made against Jews living in Europe and even resulted in lynching and persecution of *WHOLE* Jewish communities.”

    A more appropriate word would be, “ENTIRE.”

    This article has been most informative, nonetheless.

  137. Heath -  January 13, 2011 - 12:37 am

    I have to agree that I think dictionary.com is being a bit partisan with its description. If blood libel means what it means, which is what Palin said, why is dictionary.com jumping on the anti-semetic meaning bandwagon?

  138. Danny -  January 13, 2011 - 12:34 am

    If you’re in a hole,you better stop digging,otherwise,you never going to come out.Sarah has long been in a hole,so her advisers(that’s if she listens to them)should better advise her to stop digging.If she had kept silent,Americans would have perceived her as being reflective and remorseful for the unintended consequence of her insidious rhetorics.At a time when we are just beginning to see some semblance of balance and civility in the polity,her latest comment tantamounts to trying to put out an already subsiding inferno with gasoline.The fact that she has remained defiant and grossly insensitive to the mourning mood of the nation speaks volume for her patriotism.What again can one say?Sad!Sad!!Very sad indeed!!!

  139. anonymous -  January 12, 2011 - 11:52 pm

    This truly demonstrates that we Americans do not know what we’re talking about

  140. Van -  January 12, 2011 - 11:47 pm

    The persons above who stated, “…It’s all shaking out to be both tragic and terrifying. Palin needs to drop out of the public eye for awhile and get some edumacation. She sorely needs it. So do her followers..” and “…Palin however, is especially dunce…” and “…Her followers are angry, ignorant people that listen to her ignorant uneducated sounding ‘speeches’…” and “….shows you how Backwardly Conservative these people are and how out dated their thoughts are in relation(much like Voodoo or paganism thinking human sacrifice might be acceptable universally…” reveal people spewing negativity without fact or substance towards people with opposite political views. Phrases like this adds more venom to the mix and, sadly, there may another mentally deranged individual, hearing these comments day after day from our intelligentsia, who could perform some violent act towards the politician/individual to whom the media showcases. Ken Schram on KOMO radio in Seattle on Mon, Jan 10 stated that no one has taken Vice President Joe Biden to task for saying that he would “strangle” the members of congress who would oppose certain legislation. And Ken is about as liberal as one could be–but he points out the fact that no party is without sin in this matter. A person’s ugly ranting about another individual does not accomplish anything. Disagree if you must, but be factual and without malice. Have your facts correct and your emotions under control. The opposite mean-spirited behavior and language by anyone encourages sick people to act.

  141. ray bateson -  January 12, 2011 - 11:46 pm

    Why would her career be over?

    Reminiscences of rick sanchez, anyone?

  142. In Shingo -  January 12, 2011 - 11:33 pm

    As a forenote, I’ll say that what Sarah Palin does/thinks/wants is of no real relevance to me. I’m not an American and at this point in my life have far bigger things to worry about. What I am posting to talk about though is the importance of trying to communicate amidst other, lesser points.

    @Common Sense: A key difference between someone like a politician making a mistake during a speech and an average joe making a mistake in everyday conversation is basically the context involved. When you’re making a speech like that mistakes are costlier than if you made them in casual conversation (as a further example, a mistake with the hand during an operation can be several magnitudes more severe than a mistake during icing a cake). AFAIK this isn’t the first time she’s made a mistake in such a situation either and so her continuation of linguistic mistakes doesn’t give the best impression. The whole point of communication after all is to get others to understand you, not just flap your gums (despite how much some politicians may beg to differ).

    @Wayne; ignoring that not all of the negative comments were by “anons”… your post isn’t much different from theirs (including the attacking). Even if one posts by their real name on the net the nature of the net means it’s not that far removed from being anonymous. Do we know you? For most of us, all we know of you is featured in that one post. That’s nothing to run off. Further addressing your post is the importance of meaning and use. What kind of meaning do the various names of the days of the week have to most people? What kind of use do the names of various days have? Obviously, some people aren’t sure of the meaning of blood libel. Evidently, some people have negative connotations with the term and are upset by it. Certain specific words will have certain meanings to various demographics, at times depending on their use. If you’re going to be in the business of addressing masses of people then you’re going to want to make as few errors in your address as possible. Being careless with words/wording isn’t something someone in her position should be doing.

    And yes, I realise others in similar positions have made similar errors. My same point is levelled at them as well (by default really). The importance of communication warrants that utmost care be taken in such situations. To reinforce what someone else said, “words do matter”.

    For those wondering why a site is “picking on Sarah Palin”… last I checked this was a site dealing with “language”. To help explain and to help expand horizons and knowledge bases. Mrs Palin used a term unfamiliar to most, dictionary.com explained what it means and why it’s offensive to some people.

  143. Mike -  January 12, 2011 - 11:14 pm

    Blood libel has never been exactly linked to Jews. It has a high relevance only in that Jews of the middle ages were so often accused of it. However, did she use it inappropriately? No. Blood libel literally is to make fraudulent accusations in regard to blood lust or murder. The Jews of that time were accused of murdering christian children to enhance the content of their matzah. Jews of course, according to the scriptures, abhor the consumption of blood.
    I am a Jew and I find this whole incident nothing more than a typical example of left-wing bullying and character assassination under guise of political correctness. She used it correctly. Please liberals, do not tell me as a Jew what I am supposed to feel about this. I find this sort of reckless protaginism to be nothing short of insulting and disrespectful to the dead in Arizona.

  144. Marian -  January 12, 2011 - 10:56 pm

    She also said “pundints.” Another instance of Shakespearian creativity, I guess.

  145. trashcan -  January 12, 2011 - 10:47 pm

    Why is America so afraid to have an intelligent person to run the country? And, yes, Obama is a smart cookie but his election came not without trepidation and, from the looks of it, the next president may very well be a colossal numbskull.

  146. Kwin V. -  January 12, 2011 - 10:45 pm

    i highly doubt it means her career is over, i have no idea why Palin receives so much flack compared to other politicians. the left wing is all about independent women working along side men especially in the political arena, she should be considered a hero or role model for other women; her diversity in thought and action should help her not hinder her. Anyway i can see how it could belittle or be offensive using such a term, but in reality our culture does it all the time. and example of this would be the phrase “nigga” derived from “niger” which we can all agree is offensive but some how it’s okay for people to use it in music and conversation. Anyone who jumps all over Palin for this ought to point out the speck in everyones eyes or tongue in this matter because we’re all guilty of the same crime. Or they could just let it go and focus on bigger issues that actually matter.

    oh and Wayne great point, the fact that Palin is willing to be put under everyone’s microscope is a courageous act, especially when her criticizers (here and other places) are not. This really just goes to show how quick people are to point fingers but rarely look in the mirror.

    Agahst, the real problem is not bringing up an un-tasteful event, but that people are willing to forget about it.

  147. Allan -  January 12, 2011 - 10:43 pm

    This is great entertainment. You libs invested in the biggest fraud of all time and your noses get bent by a plain spoken woman from Alaska. At least she has substance. Something shown lacking on the left. So she doesn’t use the Kings English. Maybe she should use ebonics? She is a breath of fresh Alaskan air. She is a real woman who is better qualified to be President than Barack Obama. And it shows.

  148. motherdevine -  January 12, 2011 - 10:34 pm

    Palin is pain with an ‘l’
    The’l'is for lots to be desired
    A beautiful woman without a spirit to match

  149. Heath -  January 12, 2011 - 10:31 pm

    I had no clue what blood libel meant when I heard it, but I used context clues to come up with the meaning that I suppose Palin was thinking of, which is what dictionary.com has listed as a possibility. She got the word wrong, big deal, her point … the argument she was making, is a valid one, I think. I think people calling her stupid for using the word in the wrong context is being a bit harsh. I would quicker pull that judgement on our current President who didn’t know the count of states we’re currently at during one speech.

    Politics are an ugly thing.

  150. Chana -  January 12, 2011 - 10:18 pm

    Obama’s message: It’s about us.
    Sarah Palin’s message: It’s about me.
    Big difference.

  151. Common Sense -  January 12, 2011 - 10:11 pm

    It’s amazing how people make fun of Sarah Palin for her being “stupid”, “dumb”, “or dangerous” simply because she screwed up a phrase. I bet everyone posting here, including myself, has misspoken at least once in their lives. Shes more accomplished than 95% of you guys. (note: 95% NOT FACTUAL. gotta put that out there in case someone thinks I’m being serious and makes fun of me for misspeaking)

  152. King Hill -  January 12, 2011 - 9:58 pm

    Well, one this is certain: Dictionary.com nailed it when it came to naming this feature of the site the “Hot Word.” Peace.

  153. Gary Pressman -  January 12, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    The so called Tea Bag Party is really dum and argue about stoopid things!

  154. Jimi O -  January 12, 2011 - 9:44 pm

    She is just as extreme as the men that are being persecuted for being ‘terrorists’, but she is, I think more attributable to her actions than any of them. A rich conservative woman, who is as aggressive(so out spoken publically) as she appears, generally can go where ever she likes, despite the high obligation of responsibility for abuse committed.

    I think Greg that those words she is using are not quite as important as you make out; they just sound good (after all the commotion of what Liberty really means in the constiution of america HAHAHA!!).

    She probably got together with her chums down at the tea party(what a stupid name… shows you how Backwardly Conservative these people are and how out dated their thoughts are in relation(much like Voodoo or paganism thinking human sacrifice might be acceptable universally)!) or got some clever guy to coldly concoct something, in the worth of money, only to charge for his time… Not quite from the heart, just another scapegoat for the ‘Political Egotistical Charade’ which in-fact is only worth ignoring.

    - Lets Hope that some of us learn to think, as oppose to abusing & exploiting the world around us and most importanly that Balance is made without human sacrifice in whatever pretense it stands in(does that refer to Blood Libel again? :p)

  155. V -  January 12, 2011 - 9:39 pm

    And perhaps people need to stop blaming politicians for what other people do. Somebody takes a gun and goes on a shooting spree? Maybe it’s because the guy with the gun has some serious problems, not because some random politician said something. Seriously. You would think with all the bad press she is getting Sarah Palin would at least be some kind of criminal going on a spree. Rather she is the politician that is not in power at the moment. If she were in power, Barack Obama would be getting all the blame.

    Honestly, politics make my head hurt. They are turning into such a useless waste of time. America was founded because people wanted religious freedom! To choose which god they wanted to serve and how to do so! Be it the god of Islam or the God of the Jews or whatever god anybody serves, everybody needs to let go and let live the other side in PEACE! Seriously, I can hardly decide which causes more strife in the world, Religion, Politics, or worse, Religious Politics!

  156. Marsha W. -  January 12, 2011 - 9:35 pm

    I am so sad to see that even on dictionary.com people spout hatred about someone who has a different opinion than themselves. How did we all get to the point where we call each other names, and accuse others of being stupid, just because they have different viewpoints than our own?

    Not only that, you might be surprised someday to learn how many people actually agree with Sarah Palin, I being one of them.

    History will have so much to say about all of our current leaders. We’ll see….we’ll just all see…

  157. rosie -  January 12, 2011 - 9:27 pm

    Okay, here’s the thing. Dictionary.com has left out the fact that “blood libel” refers to human sacrifice, most commonly in reference to dangerous rumors alleging that Jews killed Gentile babies and used their blood to make matzoh. There’s a little more going on than misusing a word when it was used to persecute an entire group of people for centuries. Furthermore, if it was a racial slur that every American actually knew she would be getting a lot more heat. I believe most of you wouldn’t expect politicians to go around dropping racial slurs in defense of their unacceptable behavior and rhetoric, so maybe take the politics out of it and see it for what it is: A. Sarah Palin is an anti-Semite or B. Sarah Palin doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about. Either way, she deserves no place in intelligent political discourse.

  158. Adam Stempleton -  January 12, 2011 - 9:19 pm

    it doesn’t matter if democrat or republican. Both sides have corrupt insidious people. In American Politics, democrats and republicans are so similar that Americans are basically voting the same corrupt government. It’s a constant vicious cycle. I would actually start fearing fascism and total corporate control right now.

    @Wayne Johnson
    We are allowed to criticize and give negative comments about Sarah Palin because she is incredibly wrong. She does not even know how to use her own words. It is also a freedom of expression to speak about what is right and not wrong.

  159. Jon -  January 12, 2011 - 9:17 pm

    The chattering of these Sarah-Pain-hating liberal lemmings is downright Orwellian – - the embodiment of “all of us are equal….but some of us are more equal than others”.

  160. Solo -  January 12, 2011 - 9:10 pm

    Sarah Palin is a dangerous woman! She doesn’t think things through before she opens her mouth. She refuses to accept responsibility for her bad choice of words that only serve to stir some people to anger. Instead, she blames it on the news media. I wish she would do us all a big favor and just go away. She has had way more than her “15 minutes of fame.”

  161. Bill Lewis -  January 12, 2011 - 9:09 pm

    Here is an example of semantic bleaching as it is defined by “The famous linguist Deborah Tannen:” Whenever a conservative disagrees with the liberal agenda, they are labeled as “racists!” Now, the term racist has taken on an entirely different meaning than that of a bigot. Now it just means you don’t agree with a statist, collectivist, Marxist agenda that treats all humans as worker ants, except for elitists who think they should be exempted from all the rules they have laid out for the rest of us.

  162. Sahuaro -  January 12, 2011 - 9:07 pm

    I don’t know about Sarah, but I was unaware of the history behind blood libel, having become a victim of semantic bleaching. On the Cobert Report was a montage of various people accusing others of being responsible for the Tucson rampage. One woman could be heard saying, “Sarah Palin has blood on her hands.” That meets two of the requirements for being close to blood libel to me:
    1. It implies Sarah wanted the 9 year old to be sacrificed.
    2. “Its use is nearly always excluded to sensationalized accusations and high emotions.”
    What is missing? Cannabalism, and , oh yeah, Sarah isn’t Jewish, and her critics would have you believe that like the n word, she can’t use it.

  163. Neko -  January 12, 2011 - 9:02 pm

    I highly doubt that she meant “blood libel” with its original connotation. More likely, she probably just meant that people were libeling her in a bloody context, that people were trying to put the blood of the victims on her hands. However, some of the “vitriolic”, mostly partisan rhetoric comes dangerously close these days to suggesting a very Caesarean political solution.

  164. GW -  January 12, 2011 - 8:54 pm

    Palin had one of the more intelligent comments about the aftermath of the shooting I’ve seen or heard around political circles. She, like the president to his credit, looked to focus on what mattered most–the tragic events and the six that lost their lives.

    The term “blood libel”, like many words and phrases, has different meanings and has changed throughout the years. People use the term “kill” to describe sporting events or college exams (“Our team killed the other team”, “I certainly killed that Psych midterm”, etc.) So one shouldn’t be quick to blame someone for using a “controversial” word when it is clear Mrs. Palin’s heart is in the right place.

    I’m glad dictionary.com has decided to look at the lingusitics of certain words that make rounds in the news, including this phrase. As someone with a large bias toward the English language, I appreciate such scholarly analysis on my mother-tongue. However, the site should mention a defense of Palin on the use of the term. Here is what Alan Dershowitz (Harvard law professor and attorney) had to say:

    “The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term.” (bigjournalism.com)

    Whether or not Palin had used the term, many virulent, irrational political commentators, bloggers, and politicians would have found beef with what Palin said. Outrage over the term “blood libel” is merely smoke and mirrors. And non-offensive as well.

  165. Holy S--- -  January 12, 2011 - 8:50 pm

    Come on…this has nothing to do with politically correctness……and being anonymous in this climate is smart…..Sarah Palin has all the guns!….Sarah Palin and her throwbacks……
    Remember ..words mean everything. When blacks were being lynched in the south…would that have happened without all the hate speech against people of a certain race….this is no different……….this is hate speech against people they do not approve of black, white or green….people who are not patriotic in their eyes etc. etc. etc. She can never be President. She probably doesn’t want to …..just wants to be a fringe fanatic and make money speaking, speaking, speaking….and she wouldn’t finish her term if she did get elected. She is too spastic to finish anything. Didn’t she go to 5 different universities to gets a 4 year degree ?

  166. C -  January 12, 2011 - 8:48 pm

    Sarah Palin’s career over? Maybe in the rest of the real world, but not in the USA =)

  167. Glenn -  January 12, 2011 - 8:45 pm

    Metaphorically speaking Sarah was right on the mark about a canabalistic media that would sacrafice thier Jewish mothers if it meant they could blame a conservative.

  168. Julia -  January 12, 2011 - 8:37 pm

    Anyone can refute their enemies, but calling them “blood libel” seems to me just a *little* too much…

  169. Debra -  January 12, 2011 - 8:35 pm

    The whole political climate is hypocritical.I use to be a registered democrat but now an independent.Why does the left get so upset by whatever Palin says if she is so stupid why bother other politicians can say things give interviews with controversial statements but nothing and no one riles them up like Palin! Why!

  170. Alina -  January 12, 2011 - 8:35 pm

    It is disheartening that a politician should work with speech writers who cannot distinguish between libel (slander, accusation) and libation (pouring of liquid), the result being a mish-mash (blood libels)that makes no sense in English (other than referring to alleged practices of Jews in medieval Europe). What if next time these speech writers mix up words with much more serious consequences that could entail war and other catastrophic events?

  171. Michael M -  January 12, 2011 - 8:34 pm

    I agree with Wayne. The Palin-bashing is a ridiculous fad. I know all of the cool people are doing it, but maybe someone can scrutinize her principles instead of lambasting her trivial missteps. Contrarily, that would require a capacity for independent thought that faddists lack.

    Anyway, we’re all leaky, sometimes broken, vessels; the contents of the vessel are important than its appearance. Would you rather have champagne in a plastic water bottle or cholera-laced cess-water held in the queen’s finest crystal?

  172. flash -  January 12, 2011 - 8:29 pm

    AAC you’re right on.
    We already know how stupid/crazy she is. Let’s focus on what she can do with her stupid/crazy mind.

  173. David A. Davis -  January 12, 2011 - 8:10 pm

    What she said was in proper text and usage. Because a few of the Jewish faith are bothered it doesn’t mean the pahrase is hands off. If that were the case “Gay” would have to be dropped because it meant happy and excited at one time. I was in school with peole whose last name is gay and has bee for 100′s of years. Should they sue the Homosexuals for improper usage. Yes, if they go by the majority of the commenters beliefs.

  174. Richard -  January 12, 2011 - 8:09 pm

    Her ignorance just makes me smile from ear to ear.

  175. Meica -  January 12, 2011 - 8:03 pm

    Nahhhh..Sarah Palin again!

  176. Dale Williams -  January 12, 2011 - 7:52 pm

    Wayne–exactly right. Nate–I would echo your comments except substitute Barack Obama for Sara Palin. What is truly tragic and terrifying is the ignorance displayed by many making comments here. Nate–you might want to get yourself some “edumacation” before making any more ignorant statements. I suggest try reading up on the history of our country and then you may also want to read up on the history of socialism.

  177. MissEurope -  January 12, 2011 - 7:46 pm

    Sadly, the phenomenon of Sarah Palin and her widely spread support is a direct reflection of the intellectual level of majority of American population. There are a lot of people among those who support her who call themselves “educators” and God only knows what level of education they give to our kids. America needs to change education standards and get closer to the European level. Kids in this country spend 12 years in school and most of them come out knowing nothing! And Sarah Palin who can see Russia from her back yard is definitely a great example of it:)

  178. Gordon -  January 12, 2011 - 7:43 pm

    It means that more well meaning liberals will retaliate against Palin’s self-defense by firebombing her church again…

  179. ring ring -  January 12, 2011 - 7:43 pm

    people people! get off your politic comments here. Post them elsewhere.

    with that said…Sarah Palin is stupid and we all know that. Next…

  180. Reason -  January 12, 2011 - 7:42 pm

    The Republicans are looking for a quick way to discount Sarah Palin. Liberals are feeding right into there goals. They know that Republicans would never vote her into office. She is likely the only politician more unqualified than Obama. Liberals need to cool their jets. They actually think that Republicans are as dumb as they are and would simply vote for celebrity over credibility. Sarah Palin will go away quickly from the American scene, because she is not convenient for the Republicans and hated by the left because she is too much like Obama and thus feared.

    I get what she meant by the phrase. Lots of words of taken out of context. Rhetoric is used erroneously all the time. How many people do you think have ever heard of blood libel?

  181. Carlo -  January 12, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    I never knew “dictionary.com” was so partisan and political. All I wanted to do was look up some usage and I am subjected to more of the same suggestion of a fake “controversy” from the same tired collusive ring of liberal hacks — as if the REAL “controversy” isn’t the willingness of the left and the liberal hacks to exploit a tragedy as a pretext to mystically tie the actions of a sociopathic killer to political speech — but even though he was apparently into stuff like “The Communist Manifesto,” it’s STILL somehow the “fault” of conservative and right wing speech. Oh, and let’s not forget the left’s favorite whipping-boy, the Second Amendment, wouldn’t want to leave THAT out of their inane and circular-logical bigoted diatribe.

    Needless to say, I will be using Merriam-Webster from here on in. Dictionary.com is too slow anyhow.

  182. S. P. -  January 12, 2011 - 7:37 pm

    Everybody’s talking. Nobody’s saying anything. It’s all ad hominems and generalities. Too easy to talk and not know anything.

  183. Jeff Dumaine -  January 12, 2011 - 7:35 pm

    I do not hide who I am. Sarah Palin is a fool, she has no concept of the language she destroys. @John she is more than welcome to refute her ‘enemies’, she can even repudiate them, what she cannot do is REFUDIATE them. @Wayne, comparing the use of a term that describes an act as despicable as blood libel to the genesis of the the names of the days of the week is ludacris, She did not use an old no longer relevant term, she used a term that has been used as recently as during the Jewish purge in Germany during WWII!

  184. Jacob Blankenship -  January 12, 2011 - 7:31 pm

    So, the misuse of a word derived from historical events is going to cause a world war, eh? does it sound stupid if someone says your muffler is going to blow up from putting the wrong fuel in your car? Grow a brain.

  185. James -  January 12, 2011 - 7:27 pm

    Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz:

    “The term “blood libel” has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. Although its historical origins were in theologically based false accusations against the Jews and the Jewish People,its current usage is far broader. I myself have used it to describe false accusations against the State of Israel by the Goldstone Report. There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term”


  186. AR -  January 12, 2011 - 7:18 pm

    People keep forgetting to mention that Giffords is Jewish. I think that makes the comment particularly repulsive.

  187. Zakiyyah -  January 12, 2011 - 7:07 pm

    A person’s choice of words is an indication of that person’s ability to express oneself. If a person has a limited vocabulary, such as Sarah Palin, then mistakes such as the above mentioned will be made often if that person is trying to communicate above their comprehension. A person’s intellectual, as well as, their common sense capabilities are indicative of their ability to be able to lead effectively.

    Sarah Palin is more ignorant than the last ex President, George Bush, whom we all know was incompetent. He actually led this country into ruin with his ignorance and cowboy attitude which led to the destrustion fo Iraq.

    There is a faction of so called Americans who would like nothing better to turn back the hands of time when this country was filled with vile & hatred towards those whom they wrongly perceive to be inferior to them. However, NEVER NO MORE, will we allow this wound to fester. As out great PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA stated tonight in Arizona, TOGETHER WE STRIVE!!! AND STRIVE WE MUST!!! I don’t have to like or even love you nor you I, but YOU WILL RESPECT US the God given right of ALL humans……….EQUALITY & JUSTICE AND not JUST US!!!

  188. Brad -  January 12, 2011 - 6:54 pm

    Let’s not forget it was not Sarah that interjected herself into this event. It was the mainstream media. She has the right to defend herself against the less-than-balanced media outlets. She is no more resposible for this act than any one of the posters here.
    Also remember the numerous times President Obama has used inflammatory comments, “if they bring a knife, we bring a gun”, “get in your neighbor’s face”, etc.. Google search some of his comments, you will be surprised at how vitriolic he has been. With that said, he too is no more responsible for this act than Sarah.
    Please people, before pointing and blaming get the facts from BOTH sides of the issue and do not count on the media as a good source for your information.

  189. A. Mitchell -  January 12, 2011 - 6:53 pm

    Ms. Palin and her speechwriters may not have completed the same college courses as some of the readers here, but that doesn’t render them unintelligent.

    The speech clearly achieves one of its intended goals, which is to signal to Ms. Palin’s critics in the media that they could also be named as acceptable targets for vigilante violence. One doesn’t need to precisely map the words out to come away with the understanding that the stakes have been raised and that one side is not backing down.

    Hot word for tomorrow: intimidation.

  190. Sharon Jackson -  January 12, 2011 - 6:52 pm

    Words DO matter. It was foolish of her speech writer or handlers, or who ever. to come up with such a little known phrase, give it to her, and think she could get away with it. She has made her situation worse not better.

    This is not just a one-off mistake. It is an error symptomatic of her whole flawed platform.

    Furthermore, in the aftermath of this horrifying event, where emotions run high, where Ms. Palin has been using the language and imagery of violence to put forward her agenda, it is no surprise that people want to keep their names anonymous. The threat of retribution by a gun slinging supporter is no longer theoretical.

  191. CaptiousNut -  January 12, 2011 - 6:49 pm

    I call the fools who follow this nonsense – *present-tensers* – and I do so condescendingly.

  192. Anon2 -  January 12, 2011 - 6:46 pm

    @Greg Holmgren – kudos on your comment. It would be great if more people were cognizant of life and ideas outside “party lines.”

    @random – Palin running for President in 2012 means sure victory for Obama. He is savvier than her, and most likely – because she is smart enough – she will turn-down debating with him. The Republican party needs to define itself. As a democrat that would have liked to see McCain nominated in 2000 (but not in 2008) and voted for George H. Bush (Sr.), I sure hope that it is not going to be a Tea Party takeover because that is a sure demise of what the Republican party used to be under Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush (Sr.).

    There is only one way, if you follow the lemmings….

  193. annie -  January 12, 2011 - 6:42 pm

    I agree with you Wayne

  194. Patrick -  January 12, 2011 - 6:38 pm

    It was a perfect use of the term. Those who wish her ill can’t see right, those who think she’s great can’t see wrong.

    The controversy illustrates the stupidity of the libs… the right has cover on this one… because only the left wants to deny FREE SPEECH.

    How sick this country as become, how sad.

  195. maree -  January 12, 2011 - 6:35 pm

    Sounds like some folks are scared of a conservative woman.

  196. sciguy -  January 12, 2011 - 6:25 pm

    Just because a phrase has a traditional meaning with respect to Jews – and I am a full supporter of Israel and the Jewish people – does not give any group the right to ‘own’ a phrase. The phrase blood libel is no longer attached only to the Middle Ages and earlier times, but is in fact used widely these days. Deborah Tannen should do a bit more research. If you don’t think so, check out Jim Geraghty’s post on NRO and Alan Dershowitz’s comments regarsing recent usage of the phrase. Sarah Palin used the term both appropriately and accurately in response to the vicious and unfounded attacks on her. And her response today was wonderful. The loud howls from the left are because she nailed them but good!

  197. Gwendolyn -  January 12, 2011 - 6:24 pm

    I support SP. She did not use the term incorrectly. There is no racial, ethnic, or religious monopoly on calling false accusations “blood libel”. The only people falling for this are the ones who were looking for a reason to discredit their opponents.

  198. Sick of It -  January 12, 2011 - 6:22 pm

    I must’ve missed the “Please post your anti-Palin comments here!” invitation here. It clearly states above: “Dictionary.com is a source for authority regarding words – not political actions or opinions.”

    Comprehension. Manners. Wisdom. Self-control. Responsibility. Honor. Integrity. All things from the past, it seems.

  199. Joe -  January 12, 2011 - 6:20 pm

    Blood libel in this context is being used in a broader sense. Harvard law professor and Jew does a very good job in putting in context.
    He says…. Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz defended Palin’s use of the term “blood libel,” saying it “has taken on a broad metaphorical meaning in public discourse. “There is nothing improper and certainly nothing anti-Semitic in Sarah Palin using the term to characterize what she reasonably believes are false accusations that her words or images may have caused a mentally disturbed individual to kill and maim. The fact that two of the victims are Jewish is utterly irrelevant to the propriety of using this widely used term,” he told BigGovernment.com. Let it be known that a fellow student has told the press that Loughner did not watch T.V., watch the news, or had any political interest at all. Loughner’s actions were not based in politics at all.

  200. Billy Bob -  January 12, 2011 - 6:20 pm

    Great to have all us redneck Americans at this here reunion… Democrats and Republicans.

  201. tiredofidioticbehavior -  January 12, 2011 - 6:17 pm

    It is truly sad that a person like Sarah Palin has followers. She has now in several occasions demonstrated her intention of dividing the nation, and building up anger amongst the ones that do not need much of ammunition to act irresponsible. Her followers are angry, ignorant people that listen to her ignorant uneducated sounding “speeches”. Sorry, but only in America would a person like her get the time and the air.

  202. Eyewitness -  January 12, 2011 - 6:13 pm

    On a more pedantic note, pursuant to my own wont, in this column and the related comments I have encountered two usages which are entirely new to me. I am a highly accomplished, native english speaker. Are the following usages actually newly acceptable, or are they coinages in the due course of haste?

    The article states, “Its use is nearly always excluded to … accusations and … emotions.” Can the verb “to exclude” correctly be used as a causative predicate in such a manner, i.e., a grammatical equivalent of “to marginalize.” Is “to exclude” correctly ascribed the property of situating something in a particular place? I always thought it specified the place from which something was prohibited, i.e., not permitted to be situated, as in, “In our casual clothes, we were excluded from the formal dining room.” I find it quite bizarre that I have never heard this causative usage in a lifetime of english speaking.

    Secondly, commentor “Whatinthe” states, “Palin however, is especially dunce.” Is dunce ever more than a noun, or is this a typo or a trendy, new adjectival usage?

    Thanks to all who may offer em their learned opinion.

  203. random -  January 12, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    at least she used a legitimate word.

    Refutiate? psh.

  204. Greg -  January 12, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    I suspect she meant to say ‘blood feud’. Makes you wonder where she heard the term ‘blood libel’.

  205. Jude -  January 12, 2011 - 6:11 pm

    There seem to be a couple of Sarah Palin supports in this thread. Good for you. It’s your right to defend her if you like.
    But unfortunately, it’s not just words she makes mistakes with. A few months ago when North Korea attacked South Korea, Ms. Palin was on a talk radio program and she said something to the effect that America will stand with it’s North Korean allies.
    Imagine if she was President and she said something like that at a live press conference or something?
    You can support her all you want, but she doesn’t come across as someone who is very knowledgeable. Making mistakes with words only tarnishes her image further.

  206. collhic -  January 12, 2011 - 6:10 pm

    Oh good grief. Now we can’t use “blood libel” without everyone going into a tizzy? What word will be next, Aghast…holocaust?

    It’s pretty obvious what Palin meant, the historical, hairsplitting semantics notwithstanding.

  207. A Republican -  January 12, 2011 - 6:08 pm

    Lol, Sarah Palin sure is causing a lot of controversies these days. First the “refudiate” idiocy, now the blood libel ****. What next, a Democratic blowout over her choice of clothing?

  208. NavyDawg -  January 12, 2011 - 5:59 pm

    If every misuse of a word prevented a person from holding political office we would have no politicians. Not a bad idea. It is jejune to harp on blood libel as being misused when there are spending cuts that increase the national debt by trillions of dollars. When someone is attacked physically or verbally the attacker should expect the victim to defend himself.

  209. Michele -  January 12, 2011 - 5:57 pm

    Glenn Reynolds used it first (this week) on Instapundit and Prof. Alan Dershowitz said he has no problem with the use of this phrase in this context. If Sarah Palin is so stupid and unqualified, why does the left keep talking about her? How do any of you critics know if Palin understands the phrase or not? Stop making assumptions about people you disagree with.

  210. walking8 -  January 12, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    To all of you over educated (book wise) liberal idiots-How many of YOU have been a mayor and Governor of a state. You hate her because the media hates her and you are terribly afraid of her and her followers. You are
    SURROUNDED! Like it or not!

  211. Joe Daw -  January 12, 2011 - 5:47 pm


  212. ms.karma -  January 12, 2011 - 5:47 pm

    so that’s what they call blood libel. oh my, really creepy.


  213. Jacob -  January 12, 2011 - 5:44 pm

    There’s no “blood libel” at work here. This would be like comparing the shooting at Arizona, as horrific as it was, to the holocaust because both horrific events involved murdering innocents.

  214. Disappointed with Bloggers -  January 12, 2011 - 5:36 pm

    While Mrs. Palin’s flippant use of language may deserve criticism from the erudite community, I find the ad hominem attacks leveled at individuals like Sarah by blogs sites such as this one appalling- attack ideas with rhetoric, not persons with reprehensible vitriol. Also, contrary to Aghast’s thinking, it is important for us not to forget the “aghastly” (I can make up words, too) atrocities of years past, lest the “noun libel” of today become the “blood libel” of tomorrow.

  215. Frank -  January 12, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    I’m not sure if Sarah shot from the hip, but if deliberation causes you say that your grandmother is a “typical white person” or that police officers “acted stupidly” when confronting a person at a possible break-in, then why deliberate?

  216. john -  January 12, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    Democrats are fools…
    They now say that a woman can not refute her enemies.

  217. AAC -  January 12, 2011 - 5:10 pm

    i hate sarah palin, but i think being overly critical of her because of a term she used is too dramatic. she has a lot of other politically related flaws we can pick on.
    btw, thanks to dictionary.com for giving the explanations to the phrase. i was wondering about it myself

  218. What inthe -  January 12, 2011 - 5:06 pm

    There have been several less than astute politicians in recent years. Palin however, is especially dunce.

  219. Wayne Johnson -  January 12, 2011 - 4:59 pm

    Everyone who posted negative comments about Sarah Palin posted their comments anonymously. What cowards you are. Every word has its etymology. The days of our week are named after either celestial bodies that were once worshiped as gods, where the names of Norse gods themselves. Do you, to all of us who use those words, worship these celestial bodies in Norse gods? Give me a break with your holier-than-thou mudslinging, your throwing stones from behind false names. Pathetic.

  220. Aghast -  January 12, 2011 - 4:48 pm

    It’s scary to think that she is even being considered for the most powerful position in this nation. A person who shoots from the hip, and doesn’t deliberate or filter the things she says. She could cause a world war…ooops. To bring “blood libel” to the consciousness of America in itself is irresponsible. It only causes people to ask what it means, something we would like to forget. She is a dangerous woman.

  221. Greg Holmgren -  January 12, 2011 - 4:43 pm

    At an event this past summer I recall Ms. Palin having said: “We’re just going to stick to our guns our religion and our constitution and the rest of them can just keep the change.” I hope in a great and pluralistic nation such as The United States, those who’s thoughts, ideas and beliefs render them “outside” of that narrow framework will not settle for “the change”. Words do matter.

  222. Nate -  January 12, 2011 - 4:40 pm

    The very fact that Palin has any supporters or followers whatsoever does not speak well of the current political climate in the USA. It’s all shaking out to be both tragic and terrifying. Palin needs to drop out of the public eye for awhile and get some edumacation. She sorely needs it. So do her followers.

  223. random -  January 12, 2011 - 4:39 pm

    Not true,nobody is going to stop liking one political leader just because they get a definition of a word wrong. Even right wings like her are still talking about how she used in incorrectly. A lot of people may think she’s stupid but she’s really smart. We’re only human and we don’t know everything, and we DO make mistakes. Unfortunately, she didn’t fully understand the meaning. And what can i say, life?

  224. 7%Solution -  January 12, 2011 - 4:28 pm

    Sadly, it means she just got a lot more press than she deserves. No one who supports in Palin knows the meaning of the term any more than she (or her handlers) do.

  225. Eric Kloc -  January 12, 2011 - 4:28 pm

    wrong, it means that america is insane about being politically correct

  226. anonymous -  January 12, 2011 - 4:26 pm

    we can only hope…

  227. GWSTB -  January 12, 2011 - 4:25 pm

    Oh, Anonymous. If only that were true.

  228. Anonymous -  January 12, 2011 - 4:11 pm

    It means Sarah’s political career is over.


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