ger·ry·man·der (jĕr’ē-măn′dər, gĕr’-)
tr.v. ger·ry·man·dered, ger·ry·man·der·ing, ger·ry·man·ders To divide (a geographic area) into voting districts in a way that gives one party an unfair advantage in elections.
n. 1) The act, process, or an instance of gerrymandering. 2) A district or configuration of districts whose boundaries are very irregular due to gerrymandering.
[After Elbridge GERRY(Cf. Gerry) + (SALA)MANDER(Cf. ↑salamander) (from the shape of an election district created while Gerry was governor of Massachusetts).]
Word History: In 1812, as governor of Massachusetts, Elbridge Gerry signed a bill authorizing the revision of voting districts in his state. Members of Gerry's party redrew them in order to secure their representation in the state senate, and out of Gerry's home county, Essex County, they carved an unlikely-looking district with the shape of a salamander. According to one version of the coining of gerrymander, the shape of the district attracted the eye of the painter Gilbert Stuart, who noticed it on a map in a newspaper editor's office. Stuart decorated the outline of the district with a head, wings, and claws and then said to the editor, "That will do for a salamander!" "Gerrymander!" came the reply. The image created by Stuart first appeared in the March 26, 1812, edition of the Boston Gazette, where it was accompanied by the following title: The Gerrymander. A New Species of Monster, which appeared in the Essex South District in Jan. 1812. The new word gerrymander caught on instantly—within the same year gerrymander is also recorded as a verb. (Gerry's name, incidentally, was pronounced with a hard (g) sound, although the word which has immortalized him is now commonly pronounced with a soft (j) sound.) Gerry ran for reelection in 1812, and popular outrage directed at the flagrant use of the technique we now call gerrymandering doubtless played a role in his defeat.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • gerrymander — ger·ry·man·der 1 / jer ē ˌman dəralso and originally ger ē / n [Elbridge Gerry (1744–1814) + sala mander; from the shape of an election district formed during Gerry s governorship of Massachusetts] 1: the act or method of gerrymandering 2: a… …   Law dictionary

  • gerrymander — ● gerrymander nom masculin (anglais gerrymander) Découpage électoral destiné à favoriser son auteur. (Le gouverneur américain E. Gerry créa en 1812 une circonscription en forme de salamandre.) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • gerrymander — 1812 as both a noun and verb, Amer.Eng., from Elbridge Gerry + (sala)mander. Gerry, governor of Massachusetts, was lampooned when his party redistricted the state in a blatant bid to preserve an Antifederalist majority. One Essex County district… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Gerrymander — Ger ry*man der, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Gerrymandered}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Gerrymandering}.] To divide (a State) into districts for the choice of representatives, in an unnatural and unfair way, with a view to give a political party an advantage over… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gerrymander — meaning ‘to manipulate election districts unfairly’, is originally a US word formed from the name of Elbridge Gerry, governor of Massachusetts in 1812. His name was pronounced with a hard initial g, and the word was at first pronounced likewise,… …   Modern English usage

  • gerrymander — ► VERB ▪ manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favour one party or class. ORIGIN from the name of Governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts + SALAMANDER(Cf. ↑salamandrine), from the supposed similarity between a… …   English terms dictionary

  • gerrymander — ☆ gerrymander [jer′ē man΄dər; ] orig. [ ger′i man΄dər ] vt. [satirical coinage after GERRY Elbridge, governor of Mass. when the method was employed (1812) + (SALA)MANDER (the shape of the redistricted Essex County)] 1. to divide (a voting area)… …   English World dictionary

  • gerrymander — 1. verb /dʒ,ˈdʒɛriˌmændə,ˈdʒɛriˌmændɚ/ a) To divide a geographic area into voting districts in such a way as to give an unfair advantage to one party in an election. The superintendent helped gerrymander the school …   Wiktionary

  • Gerrymander — Satirische Darstellung der Wahlbezirke Massachusetts aus dem Jahr 1812 Gerrymandering [ˈdʒɛɹɪmændəɹɪŋ], ein Begriff der Politikwissenschaft, ist die absichtliche, dem Stimmgewinn dienende Manipulation der Grenzen von Wahlkreisen bei einem… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • gerrymander — I. noun Etymology: Elbridge Gerry + salamander; from the shape of an election district formed during Gerry s governorship of Mass. Date: 1812 1. the act or method of gerrymandering 2. a district or pattern of districts varying greatly in size or… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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