‘Who is Scott Free?’ A search for meaning after Trump’s misuse of a medieval idiom.adriana
From the moment he tweeted “covfefe” in the middle of the night, President Trump has been perplexing his millions of Twitter followers with cryptic messages ranging from vague threats to North Korea to his retweets of Islamophobic videos without any comment.
But on Monday, a curious person by the name of Scott Free caught the Internet’s attention.
The unfamiliar proper noun appeared in Trump’s remarkable tweetstorm Monday, in which he wished a long prison sentence on his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen and insisted longtime adviser Roger Stone would not testify against him, leading some to question whether the statements amounted to witness tampering.
People have been assigning wrong origins or spellings to the age-old idiom for years, according to the 2008 book “Common Errors in English Usage” by Paul Brians, a retired English professor at Washington State University.
People might think the term has something to do with Scottish people (or an unfortunate “Scott”) or that it is “scotch-free,” somehow related to whisky. Others, Brians noted, have erroneously believed “scot-free” alludes to Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom only to lose in an 1857 Supreme Court case.