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Why Trump became The Donald

AAP logoAAP 11/11/2016 Don Woolford

The triumph of Trump makes it the Year of The Donald.

So all Donalds, or Dons - an apparently diminishing breed - can rejoice.

But why The Donald? We don't have The Barack, or The George, or the first names of any of the long line of presidents.

In Australia these days we're flat out finding any. Federal parliament has only one - Senator Don Farrell.

Now The Don is a different matter.

That could mean a Spanish grandee, a Mafia boss, or an Oxford academic.

Here, especially among those of a certain age, it can have only one meaning - Don (originally Donald) Bradman.

Of course you wouldn't expect Americans, being insufficiently civilised to properly appreciate cricket, to adopt that reference.

Their most famous Donald, pre-Trump, was Donald Duck.

But it seems the adoption of the definite article in Trump's case has nothing to do with Disney's durable creation.

According to the Washington Post, quoting a 1989 article in the defunct Spy magazine, it comes via Trump's first wife Ivana, a Czech with a sometimes eccentric grasp of idiomatic English.

She regularly put "The" in front people's first names, including her husband's. There's no suggestion she intended the mocking overtones that usually accompany its use now.

In fact, Trump embraced it.

"It's usually fun being The Donald," he wrote in 1997.

It'll be interesting to see how the "The" survives or adapts to the greater formality surrounding presidents.

Or if the name Donald - which isn't in the top hundred of boys names, makes a comeback.

Or who, in the long-term, will prove to be the most famous Donald - the president or the duck.

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