1

President Trumps wrote he is a "stable genius". According to my dictionary research, "stable" could mean:

  1. resistant to change
  2. not showing erratic emotions.

So does Trump mean that he is "a genius, who will always remain a genius" or "a mentally stable person who happens to be a genius"?

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    He chose the word "stable" to modify genius simply to refute the common headline that he is "unstable". Meaning roughly, whatever the media is trying to say he is - he's saying he isn't. – Oldbag Jan 7 '18 at 18:35
  • Stable: 1 : a building in which domestic animals are sheltered and fed; especially : such a building having stalls or compartments -- a horse stable – Hot Licks Jul 19 '18 at 21:49
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    One of Trump's special skills—regrettably not often evident in his work as U.S. president—is his ability to use a stapler crisply and efficiently. Give him two sheets of paper and a big, red, fully loaded Swingline stapler, and in no time he will have neatly conjoined the two sheets by means of a thin metal fastener. It's really what he's best at—and he's aware of it, which leads to occasional outbursts of braggadocio such as the one you ask about. – Sven Yargs Jul 20 '18 at 5:48
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    @SvenYargs - But spelling is not his strong suit. – Hot Licks Jul 20 '18 at 11:50
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    @HotLicks: It's a kind of vertical dyslexia, I think. – Sven Yargs Jul 20 '18 at 18:58
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You are asking a question about the wrong part of the phrase. As per the OED, "genius":

A. n.
I. A supernatural being, and related senses.
1. a. ... a guardian spirit similarly associated with a place

So, it is perfectly reasonable (insofar as anything associated with DJT is reasonable) to assume that he is asserting his status as the guardian spirit of a horse-stall. A 'manes of manure', so to speak.

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    I laffed, but no. – SáT Jan 16 '18 at 22:46
5

The word stable can have many meanings. When something is stable, it's fixed and steady. If you needed advice, you'd probably go to your most stable friend, the one least likely to act crazy or be easily upset.

Whether you're talking about an object or a person, the adjective stable implies reliability and strength. You can describe a government as stable, or a relationship, or a desk. A completely different meaning of stable is the noun "building used for housing horses or other animals." Both senses of the word come from the Latin stabilis, "firm or steadfast."

In our case it is just like with the friend mentioned above.

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President Trump chose the word "stable" to modify genius simply to refute the common headline that he is "unstable". Meaning roughly, whatever the media is trying to say he is - he's saying he isn't.

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0

TL;DR "stable genius" is a historic term which means a genius without mental disabilities.

The phrase "stable genius" did not originate with Trump, it is a phrase that has been in limited use since at least 1959, which is the earliest use of the phrase I could find. It appears, for example, in the book Starship Troopers written by Robert Heinlein in 1959 and is so far the earliest use of the term I can personally confirm.

...a neodog is not a talking dog; he is not a dog at all, he is an artificially mutated symbiote derived from dog stock. A neo, a trained Caleb, is about six times as bright as a dog, say about as intelligent as a human moron — except that the comparison is not fair to the neo; a moron is a defective, whereas a neo is a stable genius in his own line of work.

Here we also get some context vital to understanding how the phrase is used. The quote explicitly uses the term stable genius to indicate that he is not a "defective". As we know "defective" was a historical term used to refer to individuals who had mental disabilities of some kind. So it is clear that in common usage a "stable genius" is intended to mean a genius without any mental disabilities. This may seem like an odd thing to say but when you think about it when you consider people like Autistics and people with Aspergers who can often present as a Genius in their own fields but still have some mental difficulties in other ways the use of the term becomes clear.

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  • The trouble with this analysis is that you find (as I expected) that the President was not using 'stable genius' as a compound term: the original is "... I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius … and a very stable genius at that!” One can say 'a very high chair' but not 'a very highchair': compound nouns cannot be intensified with say 'very'. I suspect that you are misidentifying a loose collocation (at best) as being a compound noun. – Edwin Ashworth Aug 7 at 18:14
  • @EdwinAshworth That would be reasonable. But it also assumes that trump is actually skillful enough at english to know that he cant enhance a compound noun with "very". Personally I doubt he has the english skills to know that, he makes mistakes far worse than that in almost everything he says. He is, however, of the age where, when he was younger, the phrase was in common usage. He is likely aware of the meaning of the phrase but simply when and how he used it was grammatically questionable. – Jeffrey Phillips Freeman Aug 7 at 18:33

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