In 1879, a telegraphic code book proposed SCOTUS as shorthand for “Supreme Court of the United States.” Ammon Shea, writing for the Merriam-Webster blog, traced the next -OTUS coinage to the 1890s, when telegraph operators began using POTUS to abbreviate “President of the United States.” Both acronyms became widespread, joined in the 1980s by FLOTUS (First Lady of the United States), which may have originated as Secret Service code for Nancy Reagan. “Time will tell if additional -OTUS words continue to join our language,” Shea concluded.
We didn’t have to wait long. In early February 2017, after President Trump lashed out at a “so-called judge” who halted his travel ban, SCROTUS began circulating widely on social media. This tweet appears to be the first to use the definition “So-Called Ruler of the United States.”
@jonathanalter ... SCROTUS stands for "So Called Ruler of the United States."— Laura Sanders (@ViaDZine) February 4, 2017
On February 11, it entered the Urban Dictionary.
The coinage caught the attention of celebrities.
Overheard this new title for Trump: SCROTUS. The "So-Called Ruler of the United States."— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) February 12, 2017
And at least one elected official.
DING, DING, DING! Here it is; THIS is what we've been looking for. pic.twitter.com/9tP5BIDJxh— Sherry Frost (@frostnhstaterep) February 11, 2017
It even crossed the Atlantic.
Glad that McCain is speaking out on these matters. I heard a new one this weekend in England = SCROTUS So-called Ruler of The United States https://t.co/QjIJmUvBhB— Mary Langford (@LangfordIEC) February 19, 2017
But the history of SCROTUS is older and more various – and dirtier – than the “so-called” acronym.