Origin of 'Wingnut'
What's up? In my previous post "Origin of 'Moonbat'" I addressed the etymology of that particular political epithet. In this entry we shall undertake a consideration of its companion, the 'wingnut.' If you feel that my own political leanings vis-à-vis liberal vs. conservative or that my opinions concerning the labeling of people in general are germane to this discussion, then I highly encourage you to read my post on the 'moonbat' before reading this article.
Okay then. Let's get the obvious definition out of the way first. Merriam-Webster Online defines the noun wingnut as "a nut with wings that provide a grip for the thumb and finger."
Taking one step backward in our meanings, M-W defines nut in definition 3 as "a perforated block usually of metal that has an internal screw thread and is used on a bolt or screw for tightening or holding something."
Here is a picture of a wingnut for those of you who may be unfamiliar with these useful doo-dads (photo credit: citizen-journal.net):
As I did when I examined the 'moonbat,' I will rely upon the Wikipedia article on the 'wingnut' as a primary definitional source. Let's see what the piece has to say:
Wingnut is a political epithet for a person who holds tightly to beliefs that fall well outside the realm of accepted fact, usually due to ideological bias. It is commonly believed to be a contraction of "right-wing nut," and therefore to be entirely political in origin and use.
Wingnut may also be a figurative use of "wing nut"—a piece of hardware with two "wings" that make it easy to screw onto, or remove from, a bolt. This theory suggests that wingnut was chosen as an epithet for how easy such a person is to manipulate and may be considered analogous to calling someone a "tool."
Wingnut is also used derogatorily to describe a person espousing left-wing political beliefs in an extreme or obtrusive manner.
Again, I never cease to be surprised how interchangeable these pejorative epithets are! When I wrote the 'moonbat' article I learned that 'moonbat' could be levied at anybody who clings to any -ism, provided that they do so with some degree of, shall we say, "zest."
Here we have a definition of 'wingnut' that tells us that this label pertains to liberals as well as conservatives. Color me confused!
If nothing else, this goes to show how utterly asinine the business of pigeonholing people truly is. Acceptance of differences is the way to go—for me, at any rate.
The Online Etymology Dictionary contains an entry for wingnut; however, I don't believe that its information is particularly relevant to the political meaning of this word. In any event, the citation follows forthwith:
Meaning "weird person" recorded by 1989, probably not from the literal sense but from the secondary sense of nut, influenced perhaps by slang senses of wing in wing-ding "wild party," originally "fit, spasm" (1937).
Have a nice day.