What is the ‘alt-right’? And definitions of other words in the extremist lexicon

A white nationalist demonstrator with a helmet and shield walks into Lee Park in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017. AP Photo/Steve Helber

For months, the term “alt-right” has popped in and out of news stories, social media posts and the mouth of U.S. President Donald Trump.

In Canada, Google searches of the term spiked in the week following Trump’s victory and again this week, in the wake of the demonstrations, violence and death in Charlottesville, Va., according to the search engine’s trends analysis tool. The trend line for searches of the term among Americans is almost identical, with spikes in November and this week.

With renewed focus on the term, The Associated Press – the journalist’s go-to on everything from what words require a capital letter and how to abbreviate a term, to best practices and definitions – this week published a blog detailing its position regarding the use of “alt-right.”

READ MORE: Trump says the ‘alt-left’ shares the blame for Charlottesville. Here’s where that term came from

As noted in that post, “alt-right” is not the only word that’s become part of the vernacular of those paying attention to the extremist rallies and personalities making waves in North America.

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So here to help guide readers through articles, Twitter posts and the U.S. president’s press conferences, we present to you a brief glossary of terms and expressions cropping up as extremists make headlines (in their own alternative media as well as in the mainstream).


The so-called alt-right, according to The Associated Press, is a term that can apply a person or group endorsing the political stance “currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists.” That stance is more or less about protecting the white race, but there are some differences between white supremacy and white nationalism (see below).

WATCH: Trump blames “very, very violent” counter-demonstrators for the chaos in Charlottesville, saying “alt-left” protesters charged “alt-right” groups

Click to play video 'Trump blames ‘charging alt-left’ for Charlottesville violence' Trump blames ‘charging alt-left’ for Charlottesville violence
Trump blames ‘charging alt-left’ for Charlottesville violence – Aug 15, 2017


This term hit the headlines this week after Trump said the “alt-left” must share blame for the violence in Charlottesville. Seen sparsely scattered in mainstream media reports prior to the president’s statement, it seems to point to left-wing protesters – for example, the Black Bloc, which is the name given to groups of protesters associated with anarchism.

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Short for “anti-fascist,” Google searches for this term spiked in Canada and the U.S. this week. Use of the term is especially popular among those supporting the right-wing protesters. According to the New Jersey State Office of Homeland Security, “antifa” are a subset of the anarchist movement focusing on “issues relating to racism, sexism and anti-Semitism as well as other perceived injustices.” People associated with the “antifa” have become violent; when Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley in April, he was met with crowds of protesters, including members of the “antifa.”

READ MORE: What is Antifa? A quick primer on the far-left group

Blood and Soil:

Video from the weekend’s rally shows demonstrators marching while chanting, “Blood and soil! Blood and soil!” The phrase, translated from the German “Blut und Boden,” is a throwback to the Nazi ideology of preserving a pure bloodline in the country. German farmers and rural peasants were particularly idolized under this dogma (essentially, those with long lineage, or bloodline, in the country who tended to the soil).


This is an appropriation of the obsolete word, “cuckold,” a derisive term once used in reference to a man whose wife was cheating on him. Today, it’s to question someone’s masculinity, which is considered an insult. In the U.S., the term gained popularity during the campaigns leading up to the 2016 presidential election, when Trump supporters labelled Republican non-supporters “cuckservatives.”

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In an email to the Washington Post, Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist think-tank the National Policy Institute, described the word “cuck” as “vulgar, yes, but then piercingly accurate. It is the cuckold who, whether knowingly or unknowingly, loses control of his future. This is an apt psychological portrait of white ‘conservatives,’ whose only identity is comprised of vague, abstract ‘values,’ and who are participating in the displacement of European Americans — their own children.

Jewish Question:

Abbreviated to “JQ,” this refers to the discussion about the status – political, legal and otherwise – and treatment of Jewish people in Europe, primarily in the 19th and 20th centuries. Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution,” the plan leading to the Holocaust, was the Nazi party’s answer to this “question.” The place of Jewish people in society is a renewed conversation among the “alt-right,” and was the second item in Spencer’s Charlottesville Statement, published just ahead of the weekend’s Unite the Right rally.

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This is shorthand for “Social Justice Warrior,” a pejorative term the “alt-right” uses to reference someone who advocates left-leaning causes, including feminism, racial equality and gay rights. An S.J.W. is sometimes accused of throwing their weight behind whatever happens to be the cause du jour in an effort to bolster their own personal brand rather than effect change.

White nationalism/supremacy:

In its blog post, The Associated Press distinguished between the two terms as such: Nationalism refers to a belief that white people need their own separate territory and/or bolstered rights and protections, whereas supremacists embrace a belief that white people are superior to non-white people.

Merriam-Webster recently reported that both terms were among the dictionary’s top lookups online Aug. 12, on the second day of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

In a blog post on the dictionary’s website, the differences between the terms “white supremacy” and “white nationalism” is similar to those described by The Associated Press.

“While a white nationalist is defined as an individual who believes white people are superior and advocates racial segregation, a white supremacist is defined as one who believes the white race is inherently superior and should , therefore, ontrol people of other races.