Bushisms are unconventional words, phrases, pronunciations, malapropisms, and semantic or linguistic errors that often occur in the public speaking of former President of the United States George W. Bush and of his father, former president George H. W. Bush. The term has become part of popular folklore and is the basis of a number of websites and published books. It is often used to caricature the two presidents. Common characteristics include malapropisms, the creation of neologisms, spoonerisms, stunt words and grammatically incorrect subject-verb agreement.
Bush's use of the English language in formal and public speeches has spawned several books that document the statements. The first, Bushisms/President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words, was released in 1992. A poem entitled "Make the Pie Higher", composed entirely of Bushisms, was compiled by cartoonist Richard Thompson. Various public figures and humorists, such as Jon Stewart of The Daily Show and Garry Trudeau, creator of the comic strip Doonesbury have popularized some more famous Bushisms, particularly those of George W. Bush.
Linguist Mark Liberman of Language Log has suggested that Bush is not unusually error-prone in his speech, saying: "You can make any public figure sound like a boob, if you record everything he says and set hundreds of hostile observers to combing the transcripts for disfluencies, malapropisms, word formation errors and examples of non-standard pronunciation or usage... Which of us could stand up to a similar level of linguistic scrutiny?" Nearly a decade after George W. Bush said "misunderestimated" in a speech, Philip Hensher called the term one of his "most memorable additions to the language, and an incidentally expressive one: it may be that we rather needed a word for 'to underestimate by mistake'."
I used to have the job of tutoring a dyslexic child, and I know something about the symptoms. So I kicked myself hard when I read the profile of Governor George W. Bush, by my friend and colleague Gail Sheehy, in this month's Vanity Fair. All those jokes and cartoons and websites about his gaffes, bungles and malapropisms? We've been unknowingly teasing the afflicted. The poor guy is obviously dyslexic, and dyslexic to the point of near-illiteracy.
Others have sought a deeper, psychological explanation: "To a psychiatrist, these are not mere malapropisms and mistakes in speech. They reveal a truth about what is going on inside the individual's psyche. They suggest ambivalence oscillating chaotically between poles. They suggest the very desperate uncertainty about everything that the president reflexively seeks to hide by taking absolutist, rigid positions about "victory," "success," "mission accomplished," "stay the course," "compassion," "tax cuts," "no child left behind," or a host of other issues."
- "I am mindful not only of preserving executive powers for myself, but for predecessors as well."
- "They misunderestimated me." — Bentonville, Arkansas; November 6, 2000
- "I hope the ambitious realize that they are more likely to succeed with success as opposed to failure." -January 18, 2001
- "I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully." — Saginaw, Michigan; September 29, 2000
- "There's an old saying in Tennessee—I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee—that says, 'Fool me once, shame on...shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.'" — Nashville, Tennessee; September 17, 2002
- "Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many OB-GYNs aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country." — Poplar Bluff, Missouri; September 6, 2004
- "For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it."—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 14, 2001 
- "One of the things I’ve used on the Google is to pull up maps." - CNBC interview with Maria Bartiromo, October 24, 2006.
- "I'm going to put people in my place, so when the history of this administration is written at least there's an authoritarian voice saying exactly what happened." (Announcing he would write a book about "the 12 toughest decisions" he had to make. Presumably "authoritative" was intended.)
- "Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream." (dreams take wing) —La Crosse, Wisconsin, October 18, 2000
- "See, free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don't attack each other. Free nations don't develop weapons of mass destruction." Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Oct. 3, 2003 
"It would be a mistake for the United States Senate to allow any kind of human cloning to come out of that chamber."
- "If the terriers and bariffs are torn down, this economy will grow." (tariffs and barriers) — January 2000
- "I'm the commander, see. I don't need to explain — I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."
- "Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your introduction. Thank you for being such a fine host for the OPEC summit." — Addressing then-Australian Prime Minister John Howard at the APEC Summit, September 7, 2007. (Neither the USA nor Australia is a member of OPEC.)
- "Yesterday, you made note of my—the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times"- Speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008 
- "This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mental losses." (missile launches?)
- "I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That's the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best." - Washington, D.C., January 12, 2009
- "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - Washington, D.C., August 5, 2004
- "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah."—Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001
- "There's no question about it. Wall Street got drunk—that's one of the reasons I asked you to turn off the TV cameras—it got drunk and now it's got a hangover. The question is how long will it sober up and not try to do all these fancy financial instruments." — Speaking at a private fundraiser and surreptitiously recorded by a reporter with the footage subsequently leaked on various news outlets, Houston, Texas, July 18, 2008
- "You bet I cut the taxes at the top. That encourages entrepreneurship. What we Republicans should stand for is growth in the economy. We ought to make the pie higher."
- In January 2000, just before the New Hampshire primary, Bush challenged the members of the Nashua Chamber of Commerce to imagine themselves as a single mother "working hard to put food on your family."
- "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" — Florence, South Carolina; January 11, 2000
- "As yesterday's positive report card shows, childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured." — On the No Child Left Behind Act, Washington, D.C.; September 26, 2007
- "Then you wake up at the high school level and find out that the illiteracy level of our children are appalling." —Washington, D.C.; January 23, 2004
- Internets (a Bushism, pluralizing "Internet", that has become a catchphrase)
- Anguish Languish (examples of homophonic translation)
- Colemanballs (verbal gaffes by British sports commentators)
- Eggcorn (e.g. saying "old-timers' disease" instead of "Alzheimer's disease")
- Spoonerism (e.g. "Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?")
- Yogiism (Yogi Berra)
- Bines, Jonathan (May 1992). Bushisms: President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words. Workman Pub Co. ISBN 1-56305-318-7.
- "George H.W. Bushisms". About: Political Humor. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
- "The 'misunderestimated' president?". BBC. January 7, 2009. Retrieved January 23, 2009. "The word "Bushism" has been coined to label his occasional verbal lapses during eight years in office, which come to an end on 20 January."
- Comics Reporter: Interview with Richard Thompson, January 25, 2008.
- "Make the Pie Higher!". Snopes.com. 2002. Retrieved October 12, 2006.
- Mark Liberman, "You say Nevada, I say Nevahda". January 3, 2004.
- Hensher, Philip (July 21, 2010). "Sarah Palin's struggle with English language". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 28, 2010.
- "Why Dubya Can't Read". The Nation. Retrieved 2011-07-25.
- John P. Briggs, M.D. and JP Briggs II, Ph.D (April 12, 2007). "The Psychology Behind G.W. Bush's Decision-Making". Scoop (New Zealand).
- "Top Ten Bushisms: The Miseducation of America". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009 (False malaprop).
- "Top Ten Bushisms: Fish Are Friends". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- "Remarks by the President on Teaching American History and Civic Education". White House Archives. September 17, 2002. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
- "Top Ten Bushisms: The Love Doctor is In". Time. January 11, 2009. Retrieved March 2, 2009.
- "Bush Speech In Canada Met With Protests". CBS News.
- Top 50 Bushisms from About.com’s political humor section.
- Top 50 Bushisms from About.com’s political humor section.
- Bob Woodward (November 19, 2002). Bush at War. Simon & Schuster. pp. 145–6. ISBN 978-0743204736.
- 2007 in Bushisms
- "Make the Pie Higher!". Snopes.com. July 21, 2008.
- The latest Bushisms
- Frank, Justin A. Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President (2004). ISBN 0-06-073670-4.
- Miller, Mark Crispin. The Bush Dyslexicon (2001). ISBN 0-393-04183-2.
- Weisberg, Jacob, ed. George W. Bushisms: The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President. ISBN 0-7407-4456-9.
- New Republic. Bushisms: President George Herbert Walker Bush in His Own Words (May 1992). ISBN 1-56305-318-7.
- Sherman, B. Elwin. George W. Bush – On The Trips Of His Tongue – A Linguistic Legacy. ISBN 978-1-4303-1795-1.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: George W. Bush|
- The Complete Bushisms by Jacob Weisberg
- How To Talk Like Bush (And Why You Should Want To)
- About.com Bushisms collection
- About.com Top 50 Bushisms
- The Complete Bush Quotes by Est Nyboer