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The Washington Post (May 31, 2017) reports that “[President] Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ ” in his tweet:

MORNING MIX: Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ in garbled midnight tweet that becomes worldwide joke / Trump tweets ‘covfefe,’ inspiring a semi-comedic act of Congress

As I couldn’t find out the meaning of “covfefe” in several English dictionaries at hand, I googled the word. There was no heading and definition of this word there.

I heard a TV hostess seriously asking a male guest what “covfefe” means in a TV show tagged in the Washington Post, wherein he confidently explained it’s Yiddish meaning “go to bed.” But to me, this explanation doesn’t seem to fit the line, “President Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ ” at all.

What does “covfefe” exactly mean in the context of “President Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ ”?

locked by tchrist Jun 3 '17 at 13:27

This post has been locked due to the high amount of off-topic comments generated. A link to a chat room will be posted in the comments below if the conversation was moved to chat.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jun 3 '17 at 14:30
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    Once this question was closed 4-5 days after posting for the reason of “off-topic.” It was reopened in a few hours. There were four close votes thereafter. All they’ve gone now. I’m pleased to know there are a lot of users who found this question valuable and viewers mounting to 350k times of this question, more than a half of whom visited this particular question from other sources than this site. I hope all of those visiting viewers find the English Language & Usage site interesting, informative, friendly, and open to every English language enthusiast. – Yoichi Oishi Jun 11 '17 at 4:21
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There is already a UD entry, and a pending one for Collins Dictionary:

Covfefe:

  • (n.) When you want to say "coverage" but your hands are too small to hit all the letters on your keyboard.

  • Originated from Donald Trump's tweet: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe"

Also from knowyourmeme.com:

  • “Covfefe” is a misspelling of the word “coverage” mistakenly tweeted by President Donald Trump in late May 2017. The tweet was left up for more than six hours before being deleted, leading to a slew of puns, jokes, and confusion, resulting in #covfefe becoming the #1 trending hashtag in the world and prompting coverage from multiple news outlets.

From time.com:

  • President Donald Trump has responded after confounding the web with a cryptic, late night tweet, though he still hasn't cleared up the meaning of the word "covfefe".

  • Right around midnight on Tuesday, the President sent a strange message to his 31 million Twitter followers, which simply read: "Despite the constant negative press covfefe." The tweet was not immediately deleted and accumulated more than 100,000 retweets and hundreds of humorous reactions before it was finally removed from the site.

  • Now Trump has responded to the mystery surrounding his newly-minted word, which continues to trend on Twitter. "Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!" he wrote in a tweet sent early Wednesday morning, clearly enjoying the attention the presumed-typo garnered overnight.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jun 3 '17 at 14:31
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It's too soon to tell for sure...

This is an unprecedented situation where a head of state's typo became a widely mocked online meme. Essentially, Trump coined a new word and then openly challenged the public to guess what it meant in a follow-up tweet.

A word like this, that becomes famous in a single day, could disappear and remain meaningless, or it could take on a new meaning through viral uses and memes.

As has been established in the other answers, it was almost certainly intended to be the word "coverage," but its ultimate meaning could be completely different depending on whether it sticks around or fades away, and on how slang trend-makers move the meaning. (This is a process that we're participating in right now, along with a lot of the Internet.)

One possibility is that people could use the word as a tongue-in-cheek synonym for bullshit or nonsense, somewhat like the word "balderdash" functions now.

Did you hear what Steve said? That was absolute covfefe.

It's also possible that this was what Trump intended (maybe with the help of some wittier aides) to imply in his follow-up tweet.

Tweet 1: Despite the constant negative press covfefe

Tweet 2: Who can figure out the true meaning of "covfefe" ??? Enjoy!

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Jun 3 '17 at 14:31
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It's most likely to be a typo for coverage given the context, though by most metrics there are plenty of more likely typos.

Based on an analysis of error distances, and taking into account QWERTY keyboard layouts, the rather obvious coffee comes out top. Tweeting at midnight, does that mean too much or too little? But coverage is the highest-ranking word that makes any sense in context (coming in at 33rd, but my list of English words is huge -- over 600,000 including variant spellings and quite a lot of proper nouns).

Other highlights include:

  • "coves" (this could make sense as "negative press fellows") at 18
  • "covet" -- what would a negative press desire?
  • "covey" "negative press flock"
  • "coiffe" (hairdo) at 82

The script is now up on GitHub but to run it you need: Python, python-Levenshtein and a words list (see the source for links).

Also at that GitHub link is a text file with all the output for a very large list of English words, with a Jaro-Winkler metric >0.7 (where 0 is no similarity between two words and 1 means they are identical). The total error distance on a qwerty keyboard is included, where 1 means keys are adjacent. This is suitable for importing into a spreadsheet.

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    I didn't want to go into too much detail about the script here -- this is English.se, not one of the programming-related sites. But I'm happy to explain more. It's also something I largely threw together on a train so is likely to be quite buggy – Chris H Jun 1 '17 at 12:44
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    Is there a way to account for differences in typo patterns between two-thumb typing and one-thumb swiping? – MissMonicaE Jun 2 '17 at 14:23
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    @MissMonicaE I doubt it, but in swiping you normally get a real word, even if the wrong one. I assumed typing (with one thumb or two, even a finger). My code probably inherits an assumption that a physical keyboard was used, but as it ignores anything other than lettters which are laid out the same on a touchscreen, I don't think that matters. What might matter is that some input methods use a likelihood weighting to effetcively make popular keys a little bigger than they appear (reducing the chance of hitting 'q' when you aimed for 'e' -- or used to. – Chris H Jun 2 '17 at 14:28
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    Nice analysis. One suggestion: it could be worth adding a weighting based on reading age. This isn't meant to be a dig at Trump - analysis of his speeches confirms that he tends to prefer simple vocabulary and grammar (for a formal analysis see independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/…), which means a word like 'coverage' (or 'coffee') is far more likely than many of the other suggestions. I don't know of a dictionary file that includes reading age, but I'm sure there is one. – arboviral Jun 5 '17 at 8:19
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    @arboviral That's a nice idea, and one I might have a play with. It looks (wikipedia) like word frequency is the closest to reading age at the level of individual words - the concept of reading age is generally applied to bodies of text (using measurements like average sentence length). A list of the top 5000 words by frequency is available so I can try that tonight. That's typical of a 5 year old. Coffee beat coverage on that measure and none of my bonus words appear – Chris H Jun 5 '17 at 9:13
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(update) It was a typo

Donald Trump has an unfortunate history of typos and misspellings in his tweets:

Donald J. Trump tweet

From the original source cited by the OP, posted 31 May 2017, come the following The Washington Post quotes

  • Trump targets ‘negative press covfefe’ in garbled midnight tweet that becomes worldwide joke

  • At 12:06 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a strange sentence fragment.

  • “Despite the constant negative press covfefe,” the tweet read. That was it. It ended abruptly, as if someone stopped him, or he stopped himself, or perhaps he never meant to send it.

  • No, “covfefe” isn’t a typo, at least, not on the part of The Washington Post.

  • The word “covfefe” does not appear in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. When searching for it on the company’s website, the dictionary suggests “coffee,” “coven,” “cover,” “covet,” “covey” and “cuvee.”

  • Clearly, it isn’t an English word. Some tweets employing “covfefe” offer the option to translate it from Norwegian, though that appears to be a glitch of some sort. “Covfefe” does not appear to be a Norwegian word, either.

The Washington Post reporter, Travis M. Andrews, clearly stated that “covfefe” was garbled, a typo-tweet committed by the President of the US, a “nonsense” word unlisted in M-W, and not English. Is there any reason for a reputable newspaper journalist, and a native American English speaker, to lie about something so trivial?

TRIVIA:

Covfefe has attracted its own misspellings on the Internet:

Covfefe (whatever) blazed in the night sky for two brief nights. It's possible that some or many American speakers will want to perpetuate this term, but I doubt it will survive the summer.

Does anyone still talk about the POTUS's infamous misspellings/typos: Barrack (Barack), tapp (tap), and unpresidented (unprecedented)?

Update, 21st July 2017

Donald Trump's “neologism” is still uttered in talk shows and used in social media. Even though I do not visit Facebook, nor have I an Instagram or a Twitter account, I am a keen covfefe watcher and today I spotted an exciting new development in the etymology of covfefe. Martin Gholami has figured out the true meaning of the term.

Enter image description here

And elsewhere on YouTube:

Enter image description here

covfefe

informal
1. NOUN
2. VERB covering up federal felony


origin
mid 2017: blend of covering up, federal, and felony.

4

kerfuffle: (noun) a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views. "covfefe" is how a half-asleep person would pronounce kerfuffle. The time of the tweet was 12:06am..

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