A wingnut is a handy, stabilizing piece of hardware. So how did it come to be a pejorative term for those of a particular political persuasion? This is part of a complete episode.

  1. jdsutter says:

    The first thing that came to my mind in reference to the “wingnut” call was the character in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles universe whose name is Wingnut. He, along with his compatriot Screwloose, are alien/animal creatures who antagonize the turtles and (at least in the comic series) are not the brightest minds.

    I’ve no clue if that character had any bearing at all on the caller’s usage of the word “wingnut” to just mean a generally not very smart person, but it certainly popped into my head as soon as I heard the call. And if I’d heard someone use the word in that type of context, I’d immediately understand what they were meaning by it. It would have never entered my mind that it was a political term.

  2. FredP says:

    I like the speculative nature of your discussion on “wingnut” but you missed a great opportunity to share a broader history. Describing a person of questionable stability as a “wingnut” predates the 2000 election by a very long way. Mechanics have used the term from time immemorial to describe someone as we would someone with a “screw loose” because wing nuts can only ever be hand tightened. They are prone to coming loose (dislodged, dangerous) very easily.

    That said, while it is logical for someone to shorten “right wing nut” to “wing nut” I find it interesting you mention it is used almost exclusively by the left wing to describe the right . I would have thought righty tighy, lefty loosy would have made this term more appropriate for a “left wing nut” – a “loose nut” being less desirable than a “tight” one,.