What do you do about a problem like covfefe? That word from President Trump’s late tweet set Twitter ablaze overnight, sparking jokes and quasi-definitions of what seems to have been a typo. The covfefe kerfuffle is a new reminder that we’re living in a unique political era: even the words are brand new.
The tweet — “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” — was retweeted and liked more than 100,000 times after it was posted around midnight Tuesday night. It was deleted around 6 a.m. Wednesday, but by then, the typo had become a word, with a rapidly evolving life of its own.
The new term is being received as a modern take on Citizen Kane’s enigmatic “Rosebud” — and it seems the president approves of that tack. After deleting the tweet, Trump, sphinx-like, wrote, “Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ??? Enjoy!”
Who can figure out the true meaning of “covfefe” ??? Enjoy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
By the time that message went out, the search was well under way. Charles M. Blow of The New York Times published a take on Trump-as-chef, sprinkling a dash of covfefe that could presumably take a dish to the next level.
what makes me saddest is that I know I’ll never write anything funnier than #covfefe
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) May 31, 2017
When we asked the White House for a hint of the term’s meaning Wednesday, representatives didn’t respond before this story was published.
A California man reportedly registered covfefe as his license plate.
Around the world, people are taking the president up on that offer. As of Wednesday morning, covfefe was a top trending term on Twitter from Perth to Delhi, and from Mexico City to Paris.
Debates sprang up over how to pronounce covfefe. While some prefer “cov-FEE-fee,” many others gravitate toward the more continental “cov-fay-fay” or “cov-feh-feh.” And a small but insistent minority says it’s simply “cov-FEEF.”
There are people who pronounce it cov-feh-feh and then there’s everyone else who are wrong. #covfefe
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) May 31, 2017
When we plugged the word into Google Translate, the service suggested “covfefe” could be Samoan. But any hopes of an evocative translation were dashed by the default result: “covfefe.”
Merriam Webster, whose Twitter account has taken shots at Trump in the past, seemed overwhelmed, posting late last night, “Regrets checking Twitter. Goes back to bed.”
? Lookups fo…
Regrets checking Twitter.
Goes back to bed.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 31, 2017
A figure named Covfefe the Strong used a new Twitter account to announce, “I have been summoned to this world. I know not why.”
I have been summoned to this world. I know not why.
— Covfefe the Strong (@CovfefeS) May 31, 2017
He was countered by the Wizard Cofefe, who said that he had been summoned by “the Great Orb of T’kketh!”
The tweet even struck a nerve with another man known for his tan and his unnatural hair. Yes, wrestling legend Ric Flair woke up early and entered the fray, leaping off the top turnbuckle with a GIF of himself and saying, “To be the #covfefe, you gotta beat the #covfefe – WOOOOO!”
But for one day at least, the covfefe was simply unbeatable.