There was more news about “Plebgate” in various sources this week, for example: 'Plebgate' affair: Police officer to sue Andrew Mitchell on the BBC.
The origin of the suffix “gate” is obvious to anyone except the very young or dark-cave dwellers. But just in case … it came from the Watergate scandal involving President Nixon in the US in the early 1970s.
But seeing the suffix “gate” in such prevalent use made me wonder about its wide-spread use.
The Concise OED has the following description:
“-gate: in nouns denoting a scandal, especially one involving a cover-up.”
If you Google “suffix gate” you can quickly find a Wikipedia list of scandals that have been conferred with the suffix. Well over a hundred are listed, and that cannot be a definitive list.
Personally, I think the term is overused, and the media have got lazy and overexcited by its use.
Nevertheless, as Plebgate rolls on, here are some of my favourites:
Bloodgate – an English Rugby Union player used fake blood to feign an injury and later had his lip deliberately cut to back up the story. Added pain to injury.
Rubygate – Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of paying nightclub dancer Ruby Rubacuori for sexual services when she was under age. Ah, good old Silvio.
Porngate – Members of an Indian legislative assembly resigned after being accused of watching porn during government proceedings. Anything to beat the boredom!
Camillagate – Scandal erupted in the House of Windsor as tapes were released of telephone conversations between Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles when Charles was married to Diana. It seems tame now, but at the time…
Nipplegate – Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the half-time interval of the Super Bowl in 2004. This is my favourite as it’s an UNcover-up!
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