3

I was drawn to the usage of the word, “big league” in Mr. Trump’s remarks in his press conference held on February 16, where he told;

“So we've begun preparing to repeal and replace Obamacare, and are deep in the midst of negotiations on a very historic tax reform to bring our jobs back, to bring our jobs back to this country. Big league. It's already happening. But big league.

“Big league” appears in other instances:

In a write-up of its Trump interview earlier this month, CNN transcribed Trump saying the following: “I'm a believe, big league, in God and the Bible.” “Mexico is ripping off the United States big league, and we have to do something about it.” They’re not skimming a buck off the top here or there, they’re emptying the vault into burlap sacks.

This statement is followed with the following paragrapgh:

So which is it—bigly or big league? Or does he flip a coin each morning to determine which one he’ll go with that day? "It’s big league,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks tells Slate. Oh? OK then.

So my question:

Is it common for native English speakers to use “big league,” which seems to be a noun simply meaning “Major league” to me in the context of “bigly” or “extraordinarily" as an adjective and adverb?

“I'm a believe, big league, in God and the Bible / Mexico is ripping off the United States big league" - Are they proper usages of the word, big league?

P.S.

I observe a thread of arguments about “Bigly or big league: What exactly is Donald Trump saying?” on google, but no conclusion.

  • 3
    It is, of course, a Trumpism to a large degree. "Big league", in the US, refers primarily to "major league" baseball teams and games, or at least to adult baseball, as opposed to "Little League" children's baseball. The idiom has been detached from that meaning over the years, though, and now might be used to refer, eg, to a company which has grown to the point that it can compete with others in a national market. Trump abuses it to a degree to simply mean "big", or "bigly" (sic), as you suggest. – Hot Licks Feb 18 '17 at 2:03
  • 1
    I like to imagine that he's referring to the bubble gum. Darn Mexico, taking our sweets. – Elliott Frisch Feb 18 '17 at 2:11
  • 2
    Originally "big league" was used as a metaphor in the way Hot_Licks articulates. For example, if a lawyer moves from a village in Arkansas to a law firm in DC, it sounds natural to say "She is in the big leagues now." Usage beyond that metaphor makes one's self sound very Trumpian. Personally, I'd never do this. – Just Someone Feb 18 '17 at 2:50
  • We're going to need either a trump or trumpism tag pretty soon. Oh, wait we do :) I had completely forgotten. – Mari-Lou A Feb 18 '17 at 12:06
  • See also What does Donald Trump mean by 'bigly' – Mitch Mar 7 '18 at 18:02
5

In a comment, Hot Licks wrote:

It is, of course, a Trumpism to a large degree. "Big league", in the US, refers primarily to "major league" baseball teams and games, or at least to adult baseball, as opposed to "Little League" children's baseball. The idiom has been detached from that meaning over the years, though, and now might be used to refer, eg, to a company which has grown to the point that it can compete with others in a national market. Trump abuses it to a degree to simply mean "big", or "bigly" (sic), as you suggest.

|improve this answer|||||
5

The following is from the Merriam-Webster (https://www.merriam-webster.com/news-trend-watch/did-trump-say-bigly-or-big-league-20160927):

"Did Trump Say 'Bigly' or 'Big League'?

Both are real words, though 'big league' is rarely used as an adverb

Lookups for big and bigly spiked on September 26th and 27th. Many people heard bigly when Trump said big league in the debate:

I'm going to cut taxes big league and you're going to raise taxes big league. End of story.

We've found examples of 'big league' as a figurative adjective from 1916. The adverbial use of big league favored by Trump is not often encountered, however.

Trump often uses the phrase big league in a figurative sense; the manner in which he pronounces these words have caused many people to assume that he was using a single word (bigly), rather than two.

Big league has been in use since 1882 as a term for the major league of professional baseball (particularly in the United States, although it has also been used to refer to the upper echelons of other sports). The term began to see figurative use in the early 20th century.

Our files indicate the big league has been used as a figurative adjective since 1916:

The candidate for governor spoke next, Mr. DesChamps being the first of the “big league” candidates introduced. —The Greenville News (Greenville, SC), 23 Jun., 1916

And the phrase has been in use as a noun in a figurative sense since at least 1930:

“Oh, bottle that in your goodlookin’ mush. You miss those penny-ante punks you thought were big shots in Chi. You’re in the big league now, red head. What they took down is tips to waiters here.” —The Morning News (Wilmington, DE), 14 Nov., 1930

The adverbial use of big league favored by Trump is not often encountered".

|improve this answer|||||
0

Big League refers to Major League Baseball as the "Big Leagues" or "Big League." This expression was started in the day when Baseball was the big sport and meant to contrast to "Little League(s)." We grew up with that expression to describe something of great importance or impact.

For example, if someone got a good job, people would say, "Man, he's in the Big Leagues, now."

As for usage as an adverb, adjective, or noun, I'm not of the opinion that Mr. Trump is using the expression properly as an adverb, but colloquial language, especially in American English, does give you some flexibility.

|improve this answer|||||
0

The original question was: "Is it common for native English speakers to use 'big league'..." in the way that President Trump uses it. [I am narrowing this to American usage.] The short answer is: no. It would probably be more common to hear an American use the phrase "big time" in this particular context: "They're cheating us big time", and so on. As already reiterated, "big league" is generally used in a comparative sense--"big league" versus "small time", etc.

|improve this answer|||||

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.