Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Trump Used The Word "Up-Played" In His Sept. 15, 2020 Town Hall. Is Up-Play" A Real Word And, If So, What Does It Mean?

Edited by Azizi Powell

This pancocojams post focuses on the word "up-played" that United States President Donald Trump included in a response to a question he was asked at his September 15, 2020 Town Hall Meeting. 

The content of this post is presented for linguistic and political purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

From 'I up-played it'....In ABC town hall, Trump denies minimizing pandemic threat #TrumpLied200KDied

Annieli,  September 15, 2020 · 9:00 PM EDT


Asked Tuesday by an uncommitted voter at ABC News' town hall, "The President and the People," why he would "downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities," Trump denied ever understating the disease's threat.


"Yeah, well, I didn't downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action. My action was very strong," Trump said.

As evidence of his claim that he "up-played" the disease "in terms of action," Trump cited a pair of travel bans imposed against China and Europe in February and March. But pressed by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, who moderated the town hall, about "his own words" about the pandemic threat, Trump said, "We did a very, very good job when we put that ban on."” …
The African American woman asking that question then interjected, "Didn’t you admit it yourself?”
Here's a comment from the discussion thread of that dailykos article:
greenandblue, Sep 15, 2020 at 09:28:52 PM
"Trump played up playing up of a couple of travel restrictions. He doesn’t compare any outcome stats the US failed at and attacks those that do, including better proven public health experts and info, That’s his idea of playing, so in his mind, he isn’t lying, and those dead aren’t him or the markets anyway".
Click for tweets and video clips about that Town Hall (including that particular question and Trump's response.)

To my surprise "up-play" may actually be a real word, or, at least it's found on, a website that presents definitions of (mostly) English vernacular words."

Here's that definition from
To exaxagerrate, or otherwise faliciously enhance, the expression of a particular emotion.
I seriously hate techno dance parties... I think I'll up-play how tired I am from work."
by vrobert May 23, 2009
This is the only Google Search result that I received for the word "up-play": 

I assume that Trump didn't mean that definition when he said that "
in many ways, I up-played it, in terms of action..."
I think that Trump may have meant the term "played up". This is the term that I got from Google Search when I entered the words "up-play". However, if Trump meant that he "played up" the actions he took to counter this pandemic,  most of the definitions of "played up" are still quite problematic. Even if Trump meant the positive definition of "played up" that is given in Excerpt #2 "
f you play up something, you emphasize it and try to make people believe that it is important", that doesn't fit what Trump did and is doing with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three dictionary sources that quoted are given in no particular order. Numbers are added for referencing purpose only.

Excerpt #1
"play up

TRANSITIVE to try to persuade people to believe that something is more important than it is
The newspapers have really played up the low voter turnout.

Synonyms and related words
To exaggerate and overstate

INTRANSITIVE/TRANSITIVE to cause difficulties or pain for someone
The printer’s playing up again.
My back’s been playing me up all day."

Excerpt #2   
If you play up something, you emphasize it and try to make people believe that it is important.
The media played up the prospects for a settlement.

play up
in American English
to give prominence to
See full dictionary entry for play
Webster’s New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
play up
in British English
VERB (adverb)
1. (transitive)
to emphasize or highlight
to play up one's best features

2.  British informal
to behave irritatingly (towards)

3. (intransitive) British informal
(of a machine, car, etc) to function erratically
the car is playing up again

4.  British informal
to hurt; give (one) pain or trouble
my back's playing me up again

5.  play up to
Collins English Dictionary. Copyright © HarperCollins Publishers"...

The young African American woman who asked the question at that Town Hall which prompted Trump to respond with the (probably misspoken) word "up-play" instead of "play up") used the word "down play" in their question to Trump.

Here's a definition of that word from
"Definition of downplay
transitive verb

Examples of downplay in a Sentence
 Athletes often downplay their injuries.
 he self-deprecatingly downplays his own contributions to the festival's success
Recent Examples on the Web

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump wasn’t trying to downplay the virus’ impact, but was encouraged by the drop in fatality rates and other positive news.
— Greg Bishop, Washington Examiner, "State officials adjust COVID-19 fatality numbers as they learn more about each death," 1 Sep. 2020

The point is not to downplay the risks of alcohol use.
— Star Tribune, "In this weary world of woe, couldn't we at least have a second drink?," 24 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'downplay.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors.


First Known Use of downplay
1948, in the meaning defined above

In conclusion, the point is not to downplay the importance of the United States' November 2, 2020 election for President and for may other elected offices.

Hopefully, on November 4th, 2020 or soon afterwards, the United States would have elected Joe Biden and we won't have to worry about made up words, or accidentally or purposely misused words such as "up-play".

UPDATE: September 16, 2020
In that same September 15, 2020 Town Hall, Trump indicated that the pandemic would go away because of "herd mentality". Trump probably meant "herd immunity". This is a serious matter and much more disastrous than his misspoken word "up-play".

You’ll develop like a herd mentality,” Trump explained. “It’s gonna be herd-developed and that’s gonna happen.”


Herd mentality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the tendency of the people in a group to think and behave in ways that conform with others in the group rather than as individuals.”

Herd immunity is when enough people are immune to a virus that it’s no longer able to effectively spread. It can happen either from a vaccine or from so many people getting sick that the virus runs out of people to infect.

Last month, The Washington Post estimated that a herd immunity strategy without a vaccine would lead to nearly 3 million deaths in the United States. 

Twitter users were stunned by both Trump’s inability to tell the difference as well as the idea that the president may be entertaining herd immunity as a public health strategy"... Trump’s Bonkers Coronavirus ‘Herd Mentality’ Claim Lights Up Twitter The president’s wild night at a town hall took an unexpected turn. by Ed Mazza, September 16, 2020

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1 comment:

  1. The word "up-play" as used by Trump in his September 15, 2020 Town Hall, reminds me of the use of the word "up" in Rasta Patois.

    (I doubt vety much that Trump's use of "up-play" had anything whatsoever to do with Rasta Patois. But I want to share this information.)

    Here are three examples of Rasta (Rastafarian) Patois words that include the word "up":

    "big up
    (noun) origin - jamaican 1980s. singular and plural.
    1. An expression of support or encouragement.
    2. An expression of remembrance.

    origin - "Up" is an english term used to mean elevation. Therefore the term "big up" literally means to elevate highly or to a superlative degree.

    "I want to big up everyone who has shown me support over the years."

    "Big up on that excellent performance"

    by neochin June 17, 2004
    I've also seen the plural form "big ups" in online comments, although its singular form is much more common online and in the USA.

    Bless up
    Bless up is used in Jamaica to mean, have a nice day, have a good day or have a blessed day.

    Example Sentences
    Patois: Mi soon farwud, bless up.
    English: I will be back soon, have a nice day.

    Jamaican slang for positive feelings.
    You're so upful. (you're so cheerful.)
    by jackkcaj July 24, 2009