silly season

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 3, 2019 is:

silly season • SIL-ee-SEE-zun  • noun

1 : a period (such as late summer) when the mass media often focus on trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major news stories

2 : a period marked by frivolous, outlandish, or illogical activity or behavior


“The St. Louis Blues have claimed their first Stanley Cup, officially ending the 2018-19 season and unofficially kicking off the silly season of trade speculation, draft gossip and free agent scuttlebutt.” — Chip Alexander, The News & Observer (Raleigh, North Carolina), 18 June 2019

“I’m talking about the silly season. Remember the silly season? Every August, politicians would leave us all in peace and we’d have a blissful month of light-hearted, meaningless non-news.” — Michael Deacon, The Daily Telegraph (London), 11 Aug. 2018

Did you know?

Silly season was coined in the 19th century to describe the time when journalists face a bit of a conundrum: Washington is on summer break and European governments are on vacation, but the columns of space newspapers typically devote to politics must still be filled—hence, stories about beating the heat and how celebrities are also managing to do so. The idea is comical, really, since there’s always something going on somewhere. P.G. Wodehouse understood the absurdity inherent in the term when he wrote in his 1909 comic novel, The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved English, “It was inevitable, in the height of the Silly Season, that such a topic as the simultaneous invasion of Great Britain by nine foreign powers should be seized upon by the press.” Inevitable indeed.

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