OK, So Here’s What ‘Laughing Up Their Sleeves’ Actually Means

It’s been a chaotic week for American politics. And an even busier week for President Donald Trump’s Twitter presence.

It might seem like the leader of the free world has a full plate ― what with people questioning the future of health care, the former FBI Director James Comey’s firing and the general state of infrastructure in the U.S., to name just a few concerns ― but no.

Somehow, he still has time to tweet about public enemy No. 1 Rosie O’Donnell AND flex his seemingly obscure idiom skills in yet another reference to his defeat of Hillary Clinton.

“Russia must be laughing up their sleeves,” he wrote, “watching as the U.S. tears itself apart over a Democrat EXCUSE for losing the election.”

”Laughing up their what?” the American people collectively asked.

The particular assortment of word salad is actually a real phrase, though. According to Merriam-Webster, universal guardian of language, it means “to be secretly happy about or amused by something (such as someone else’s trouble).”

Oxford Dictionaries concurs, defining it as being “secretly or inwardly amused.”

It sounds like a perfect idiom for Trump’s America, to be honest. Who, these days, isn’t laughing up their sleeves about one thing or another? Take, for example, Merriam-Webster’s use of the phrase in a sentence: “The mayor’s critics were laughing up their sleeves when news of the scandal was first reported.” 

Tweaked slightly it becomes: “Hillary Clinton was laughing up her sleeve when Donald Trump first won the GOP nomination.” 

So, while you might have become accustomed to guffawing at the 140-character declarations slung by our commander-in-chief, this one’s real.

The dictionary-in-chief has spoken.

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