Terms Difficult to Classify

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These new terms are difficult to classify as conservative or liberal:

Term Origin date Comments
affirmative action 1961 first used in JFK's Executive Order 10925 in 1961 and subsequently promoted by LBJ.
Americanism 1781 Originally, a phrase unique to American English, later, loyalty to America and its principles
bipartisan 1909 emphasized by liberals when they are in the minority in power, but ignored by liberals when they are the majority in power
colonist 1701 settlers of a new country
compartmentalize 1925 compartmentalizing the Bible away from knowledge and education leads to ignorance and despair
contrarian 1657 someone who delights in taking a position contrary to others
eclectic 1683 taking the best from among different styles or ideas; compare best of the public
evangelism 1620-30 "isms" are usually pejorative, though this acquired a positive meaning over time, and perhaps from the outset
genetics 1905 perhaps this should be on the conservative list?
identity politics 1988 exploiting racial, ethnic, gender alliances for political gain
inane 1662 refers to comments, often made by liberals, that are utterly devoid of substance
junk legislation 1980s used initially by liberals to complain about the lack of meaningful legislation
missionary 1635-1645 conservative?
multitasking 1966 performing multiple tasks all at once
polar coordinates 1694 Newton may have used it earlier
republican 1685
reverse engineer 1973 to deconstruct a product (or software) in order to understand how it works, often with the purpose of copying it
scrooge 1843 the main character in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol; the story is based on materialism and is often used as a substitute for the Biblical account, but charity is a conservative value
smoke and mirrors 1982 describes the use of deceit, particularly in politics; probably a conservative term, but will await more etymology about it
soapbox 1907 now used pejoratively, but probably not initially when it was a way for the public to participate
states' rights 1790 liberals often invoke this too; Democrats were its biggest champions in the 1800s (in connection with slavery), and even today on issues like legalizing drugs and same-sex marriage
technocrat 1932 technical expert
telecommute 1974[1] a combination of a Greek root ("tele", which means "far off") and a Latin root ("commutare", which means "to exchange")
toady 1826 a toady caves into peer pressure to seek acceptance by others: "the largest gathering of toadies is by college students herded into Obama campaign rallies"
tomfoolery 1812 playful or foolish behavior
traditionalism 1856 "beliefs of those opposed to modernism, liberalism, or radicalism"
twilight zone 1949 the realm of imagination that seems impossible but is difficult to disprove, and which challenges ordinary views of reality; also the terminator between night and day on a planetary body
Whip[2] late 1800s An elected position in each political party for the legislator responsible for gathering and confirming support for the party position on particular bills. This term is derived from "whipper-in," which in fox-hunting refers to the man who prevents hunting dogs from straying amid a chase.[3]
wiki 1995 a website (or website software) that facilitates contributions and corrections by the public
working class 1789 those who work regular, 40-hour weeks in manual labor, such as factory jobs


  1. The first use of this term was in the British magazine The Economist.
  2. In its political usage.
  3. http://blogs.suntimes.com/sweet/2010/11/durbin_re-elected_number_two_s.html