The Twitter account for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary appeared to jump into the political fray once again — this time attacking Kyle Rittenhouse during his testimony on Wednesday.
In a tweet shortly after Rittenhouse broke down sobbing on the stand and the court had to take a recess, the dictionary’s Twitter account posted the definition of “crocodile tears.”
“The term ‘crocodile tears’ (a superficial display of anguish) comes from a medieval belief that crocodiles shed tears of sadness when killing their prey,” the account tweeted.
The term ‘crocodile tears’ (a superficial display of anguish) comes from a medieval belief that crocodiles shed tears of sadness when killing their prey. https://t.co/tkuVCEbBRa
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 10, 2021
At the time that it was tweeted, 2:30 p.m. EST, many left-wing social media users were in an uproar claiming that he was faking his emotion as he testified.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s was face scrunching extra hard with zero moisture. Crocodile tears https://t.co/xxAmRImrcR
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) November 10, 2021
Many were quick to notice that tweeting the term at that moment was unlikely to be a coincidence.
Now post one describing PTSD or panic attacks.
— Dakota Neel-Headley (@Neel182Headley) November 11, 2021
I love when @MerriamWebster gets political … without getting political. Very clever.
— M Speier (@mspeier1) November 10, 2021
Totally fine and not creepy that the dictionary is trying to pick cultural fights on Twitter.
— CT Jeremy (@CriticallyTouch) November 11, 2021
This is not the first time that the dictionary has waded into politics.
In 2016, the dictionary jumped in when then-President Donald Trump misspelled the word “unprecedented” in a tweet.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 17, 2016
In 2017, the account “fact-checked” Kellyanne Conway after she described “feminism” as being “very anti-male” and “pro-abortion.”
As a debate about her comments trending on Twitter, the dictionary’s account wrote “‘Feminism’ is defined as ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.'”
📈’Feminism’ is defined as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” https://t.co/Zjf7CAPUjL
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) February 23, 2017
They also attacked then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
📈Lookups for ‘betrayal’ spiked after Sean Spicer said “I’m not going to define the word.”
We defined the word. https://t.co/alq6KqMgnF
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) January 31, 2017
In May, the dictionary also changed the definition of “anti-vaxxer” to include “a person who opposes vaccination or laws that mandate vaccination.”