Something in the Water

Napoleon Bonaparte–shown here “avec pantalon”, thankfully. (Image via Wikipedia)

I was listening to the song “Waterloo” by Stonewall Jackson. (The country singer, not the Confederate General, who met his own Waterloo at the Battle of Chancellorsville.) The song gives “Waltzing Matilda” a run for its money in terms of lyrical quality. Witness:

Little Gen’ral–Napoleon of France– Tried to conquer the world, but lost his pants.

The point of the song is that “everybody has to meet his Waterloo”.  For some reason, the thought popped into my head that Nixon met his Waterloo at Watergate.  And then I thought about the phenomenon I have complained about before: referring to every scandal that happens along as “[whatever]-gate”. So, by that logic, shouldn’t we start referring to all crushing defeats as “[whatever]-loo”? For example:

No, you say?  That sounds stupid, you say? My point exactly.

UPDATE: In the comments, reader P.M. Prescott informs me that this actually happened.


  1. England did name things with the loo suffix for a time. Here’s an example. My point is that the catching suffixes are only around and long as people remember what they stand for. I’m sure in a few years most of the population won’t remember Watergate and scandals will be given another suffix.
    The Peterloo Massacre (or Battle of Peterloo) occurred at St Peter’s Field, Manchester, England, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 that had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation…
    the Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, organised a demonstration to be addressed by the well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.
    Shortly after the meeting began local magistrates called on the military authorities to arrest Hunt and several others on the hustings with him, and to disperse the crowd. Cavalry charged into the crowd with sabres drawn, and in the ensuing confusion, 15 people were killed and 400–700 were injured. The massacre was given the name Peterloo in an ironic comparison to the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier.


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