Cuckservative: An insult used against a Republican who is perceived to be “too soft or disingenuous,” according to a story published August 13 in the New York Times. The lone definition posted on Urban Dictionary (dated July 29, 2015), is harsher:
A cuckservative is a self-styled “conservative” who will cravenly sell out and undermine his home country’s people, culture, and national interest in order to win approval with parties hostile or indifferent to them.
The word is a portmanteau, or blend, of cuckold—a man whose wife commits adultery—and conservative; it emerged from right-wing, white nationalist, and anti-Semitic forums and spread via the hashtag #cuckservative. According to the Times story:
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, called the term the “ultimate insult” that the white nationalist movement can deliver to politicians who they feel have veered too far to the left. “The term, at its core, may be racist,” the group said.
Cuckold is an old word in English; at least until recently, it probably was more familiar to readers of Chaucer and Shakespeare than to white-supremacist firebrands. The word originally entered English in the 1200s, adapted from Old French cucuault, a pejorative term for the cuckoo bird: the female of the species lays her eggs in other birds’ nests, and has an “alleged habit of changing mates.” It still maintains its original force as an insult in some cultures; see, for example, a December 2012 article in the (Saudi) Gulf News: “Blogger to be sued over ‘cuckold’ tweet.” The blogger in question had reportedly “that anyone who allowed his daughter, wife or sister to work in a hospital was ‘a cuckold’.”
The earliest published definition I’ve found for cuckservative was written by Alfred W. Clark and published July 16, 2015, on Radix, a right-wing blog:
Very basically, the cuckservative is a white gentile conservative (or libertarian) who thinks he’s promoting his own interests but really isn’t. In fact, the cuckservative is an extreme universalist and seems often to suffer from ethnomasochism & pathological altruism. In short, a cuckservative is a white (non-Jewish) conservative who isn’t racially aware.
On July 22, 2015, the right-wing American radio personality Rush Limbaugh used the full extension of cuck- when he praised presidential candidate and real-estate heir Donald Trump for not being “your average, ordinary cuckolded Republican.” The following day, another right-wing commentator, Erick Erickson of Red State, tut-tutted on Twitter that cuckservative was “a slur against Christian voters coined by white supremacists.” That may be true, but As Matt Lewis wrote in the Daily Caller, the definition “elides the truly sleazy implications of the term.” And as Joan Walsh, writing from the leftward end of the political spectrum on Salon, put it:
“Cuckservative,” you see, is short for a cuckolded conservative. It’s not about a Republican whose wife is cheating on him, but one whose country is being taken away from him, and who’s too cowardly to do anything about it.
OK, that’s gross and sexist enough already, but there’s more. It apparently comes from a kind of pornography known as “cuck,” in which a white husband, either in shame or lust, watches his wife be taken by a black man.
Some versions of the definition omit the racial context.
The pornographic sense of cuck—and the use of the truncated prefix—was popularized on 4chan, an online forum on which participants post anonymously and often scurrilously. On Language Log, linguist Mark Lieberman noted last week that cuck “was extended figuratively on 4chan to reference ‘relinquished manliness’ and more abstractly ‘selling out, abandoning principles’.” Lieberman continued:
Since con, abbreviating conservative, has at least some limited usage (as in “crunchy con”), it’s a natural and effective step to substitute cuck- for con- to form cuckservative, meaning “a conservative who lacks the courage of his convictions”.
The comments on Lieberman’s post are also worth reading (something I can’t always say with confidence about posts on partisan websites and blogs).
Cuckservative benefits—or suffers, depending on your point of view—from the similarity of cuck to the vulgarisms cock and suck.
According to the Times story, “Use of the cuckservative hashtag peaked toward the end of [July], when it was used more than 5,000 times in one day, according to data from Topsy, a social media analytics tool.”