“Misunderestimate” is a malapropism invented by President George W. Bush that has come to mean “to underestimate by mistake.”
Bush accidentally used the term in a 2000 interview, saying, “They misunderestimated me.”
He likely meant to say “underestimated” but the term became linked with Bush, often as evidence for his lack of intelligence.
Jacob Weisberg explained how Bush often spoke:
I find the Bush who flails with words, unlike the Bush who flails with policy, to be an endearing character. Instead of a villain, he makes himself into an irresistible buffoon, like Mrs. Malaprop, Archie Bunker, or Homer Simpson. Bush treats words the way he treated recalcitrant European leaders: When they won’t do what he wants them to, he tries to bully them into submission.
Use of “Misunderestimate” in a sentence
- During his presidency, George W. Bush coined the term “misunderestimate” in an attempt to articulate a scenario where someone undervalues or underestimates something, albeit in a malapropistic manner.
- The phrase “misunderestimate” became emblematic of Bush’s unique verbal gaffes, adding a humorous, albeit unintended, touch to the political discourse of his era.
- Despite the initial mockery, some political pundits later opined that “misunderestimate” inadvertently captured a common political phenomenon where key factors or individuals are undervalued, reflecting on Bush’s own political journey where many had underestimated his capabilities or appeal to the electorate.