There’s a brand that’s getting a lot of web traffic these days because of the US presidential debates. And no, we’re not talking about fact checkers or Canadian real estate agents who are looking to lure disgruntled Americans across the border. It’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary. That’s right. This election is, indeed, good for someone – dictionary brands. During the second presidential debate, the Merriam-Webster dictionary found itself in the spotlight again when Google searches spiked for this question: Is “unproud” a word?

Why are people asking if “unproud” is a word?

During the second debate, Donald Trump used the word “unproud” to describe his feelings about using Twitter to criticize former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. In particular, he said this:

“Tweeting happens to be a modern day form of communication. I mean, you can like it or not like it. I have, between Facebook and Twitter, I have almost 25 million people. It’s a very effective way of communication. So you can put it down, but it is a very effective form of communication. “I’m not unproud of it, to be honest with you.”

Just like when Trump used the word “braggadocious” during the first debate, his use of “unproud” sparked a spike in Google searches for the word.

Although “unproud” might sound a bit more like a real word than “braggadocious” does, when was the last time you heard someone use it? We’re betting that, if anything, it was a long time ago. After all, if we were to say that we’re the opposite of “proud” of something, wouldn’t we be more likely to say that we’re “not proud” of it? And if we’re not “not proud” of something, then can’t we just say that we’re proud of it?

Is “unproud” a word?

So what’s the verdict? Is “unproud” a word? It is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary even tweeted confirmation during the debate in an attempt to nip the mounting confusion in the bud.

And it’s not that the Merriam-Webster dictionary went along with Trump’s use of the word to benefit from the traffic they were getting from it. “Unproud” has been around since the 1500s, and you can find entries for it not just in the Merriam-Webster dictionary but also in the Oxford Dictionaries.

Can’t we just use “proud”?

So we’ve settled the fact that “unproud” is a word, but is it a word that we really need? Can’t we just use the word “proud”? After all, saying that someone is not unproud of something is a double negative. Isn’t it easier to just say that someone is “proud” of something?

It’s true that “not unproud” and “proud” mean the same thing, but they don’t exactly feel the same. To understand why, let’s take a look at what Trump’s statement would look like if we replaced “not unproud” with “proud”:

  • “I’m not unproud of it, to be honest with you.”
  • “I’m proud of it, to be honest with you.”

Did you get more of an icky feeling when you read the second one? You’re probably not the only one.

“Not unproud of” suggests that Trump doesn’t feel bad about how he uses social media whereas “proud of” would suggest that he feels good about how he behaves online. Although you may still cringe when you hear Trump say that he doesn’t feel bad about his late-night Twitter rants, it would probably feel even worse if he said that he felt good about them.

So when Trump decided to use “not unproud” instead of “proud,” he may have been thinking and speaking strategically. (Imagine that!)


Are you wondering whether “braggadocious”, the linguistic mystery of the first presidential debate, is a real word? We’ve got you covered with this post.

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US presidential debate vocabulary lesson #2: Is “unproud” a word?
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