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President Trump Claims He 'Came Up with' the Phrase 'Prime the Pump' – but the Dictionary Disagrees

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Olivier Douliery/Getty

President Donald Trump has taken credit for creating a phrase that, in actuality, dates back two centuries.

In a recent interview with The Economist, Trump used the phrase while discussing his tax plan, asking the reporter, “you understand the expression ‘prime the pump?’ ”

After the journalist confirmed recognition of the saying, Trump continued, “We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event?”

“Priming the pump?” asked the reporter.

After Trump asked again if the interviewer knew the saying – which the reporter, once again, confirmed – the president said, “Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just … I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do.”

The president added, “Yeah, what you have to do is you have to put something in before you can get something out.”

Seemingly in response, dictionary Merriam-Webster tweeted out the phrase’s origins on Thursday morning.

“The phrase ‘priming the pump’ dates to the early 19th century,” Merriam-Webster noted.

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Continuing, Merriam-Webster (which has trolled the president before) added, ” ‘Pump priming’ has been used to refer to government investment expenditures since at least 1933.”

They then encouraged, “Not sure where a word or phrase comes from? Look it up.”

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The dictionary also linked to the online entry for “pump priming,” which reads, “government investment expenditures designed to induce a self-sustaining expansion of economic activity.”