Two Words: Unthaw & Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering and Unthaw

If you ever hear someone use the word or term “unthaw” you know they are either speaking in haste or out of ignorance.  At best someone might think that to “unthaw” means that something like a valve or the ground failed to thaw.  But a correct terminology would be to say it remained frozen.  Since thaw means to melt or turn into a liquid state, the opposite (unthaw) must be frozen. 

Unthaw is a non-word and needs to fade from use both formally and colloquially.

Red Divider

We most often hear the word “Gerrymandering” just after or just before an election.  For many of us it is just another strange term thrown out by news anchors and it passes on by without meaning or understanding.  But knowing what Gerrymandering is and what it involves is important to all of us.

The political party in power often redraws voting districts to their advantage.  It is one of the perks of being in power and working to stay in power.  According to the term first originated in 1812 when the Boston Gazette ran a political cartoon depicting a newly drawn voting district surrounded by a salamander like creature.  Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry signed off on the newly redrawn district and the Gerry-mander was born.  This is yet another portmanteau made op of Gerry and (sala)mander, and a new word was born.

Now we have Gerrymander, Gerrymandering, and Gerrymandered.  These have worked their way into our lexicon as acceptable verbs.  Then there are the noun forms of Gerrymanderer and Gerrymanderers, one or those who Gerrymander.  And there is the “silent Gerrymander” where the demographics of a district change in one’s favor and through inaction the legislature fails to correct the voting.


Technically Gerrymandering for political gain is illegal in the United States.  So, when politicians do so it is often labeled as “redistricting.”  This leads to various special interest groups working to overturn the “redistricting” and trying to prove that it is actually “Gerrymandering.”  Challenges based on race, ethnicity, and a host of social issues are not uncommon.  Often the Supreme Court has stepped in to determine the legality of the redistricting.  During the civil rights era overturning the redistricting was common but is less common today.

Gerrymandering exists in all countries and in the United States at the National, State, and Local levels.  It will always exist so long as there are political parties seeking to remain in power.  The practice of Gerrymandering existed long before it had a distinct United States terminology.