There was the word “cement-mouthed” to describe Texas governor, Rick Perry in the following text of the article titled “The Republican brain drain” appearing in today’s (September 25) Washington Post.

“The list of Republicans who looked at Iowa’s daunting demographics and did not run is more distinguished than those who did. At one time or another, Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain were front-runners. Can you think of any two people less qualified for the presidency? How about Ron Paul, another front-runner, or Mad Newt Gingrich or Rick Perry, the cement-mouthed governor who would eliminate three Cabinet offices, if only he could remember them?”

I cannot find the definition of the word, “cement-mouthed” in any of English dictionaries of Cambridge, Oxford, and Merriam-Webster, nor does Google Ngram register this word.

What does “cement-mouthed” mean? Is “cement-mouthed” a neologism invented by the Washington Post Opinion writer, Richard Cohen?

Is the meaning of “cement-mouthed” automatically communicable to most of Americans?

  • Please always add a link to your (online) sources; formatting your excerpts as quotes is also a good idea. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 4:12
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    @coleopterist.I’ve had similar requests from users for placing a link to the quote source in my question a couple of times. I’m willing to do so, but I don’t know how to do it. One user taught me how to indicate the link, which I tried by following his instruction. It didn’t work. The worse, I’m a born computer-illiterate. Could you be kind enough to teach me how to provide the link by simply indicating a catch of the quoted article in the easiest way and format the quote in the way you did, so that a near-octogenarian’s brain can follow, to c/o [email protected]? Thanks in advance. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 8:22
  • I can see that you are already using the editor to italicise text. You can similarly highlight the text that you want to convert to a link and press the "link" button (which resembles a chain link). You should see a little window pop up where you can paste the URL link of the source. Clicking OK after that should do the trick. If you need a little more guidance, please join the ELU chat room where you can get help in real time. It's quicker than e-mail! Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 18:59
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    @Coleopterist. I’m learning one by one like a dog (pahaps the dog is smarter than me). I mastered how to formate - change background color of the excerpt from the article, which I did in another post. The next challenge is how to add a link to online source, which I’m yet to go. Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 10:07
  • Nice work! Also, just so you know, if you have trouble with the link button, you can simply just type the word source followed by the full URL (for e.g., Source: http://google.com). This should automatically make it a clickable link (like so: "Source: google.com "). Good luck! Commented Sep 28, 2012 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


I would hesitate to call this a neologism, because it's just an ordinary compound word formation; the writer is saying that Rick Perry speaks as if he had a mouth full of cement, presumably meaning inarticulately.

It isn't necessary for this compound term to have any established usage for it to have meaning. If the English language contains the words pickle and head, it is not necessary for them to ever have been combined for me to use the term pickle-headed, comparing somebody's head to a pickle. Nor do I particularly feel it is legitimately a coinage when I do so.

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    At the same time, I, as a fairly literate native speaker, am not quite sure what was meant by that statement. I can presume as you did, but it's really hard to be sure unless the author goes on to clarify.
    – Jim
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 4:46
  • I was puzzled when I met this word, ‘cemented-mouth.’ How could you be an effective politician with your mouth cemented, or is full of cement. Though it may sound too literal, you can’t utter any words when your mouth is choked with cement. I thought the phisical effect of cement is silence rather than clarity and acuracy of words. Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 4:48
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    Yeah, I agree with both of you that it's not the clearest idiom ever fabricated.
    – chaos
    Commented Sep 26, 2012 at 16:37

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