What’s In a Word: Etymology of ‘Quisling’

The second article in the What’s In a Word Linguistic Anthropology series is the word ‘quisling’. I heard the word being used during White Collar, where the character “Moz” went on a minor rant about Judases and betrayer and he slipped the word in. Merriam Webster provided the definition:

Quis-ling: a person who helps an enemy that has taken control of his or her country.

Vidkun Quisling †1945 Norwegian politician who collaborated with the Nazis

The Online Etymology Dictionary further defined it as:

quisling (n.) Look up quisling at Dictionary.com1940, from Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945), Norwegian fascist politician who headed the puppet government during the German occupation of Norway in World War II; shot for treason after German defeat. First used in London Times of April 15, 1940, in a Swedish context.

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Johnsson Quisling was a WWII Benedict Arnold.

Quisling, Vidkun images

Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) served as the prime minister of Norway during the German occupation, from 1940 to 1945. He collaborated with the Nazis and was responsible for the persecution of Norwegian Jews. Found guilty of high treason, Quisling was executed in 1945. His name entered the English language as a synonym for traitor.

To learn more about Vidkun Quisling’s biography, please visit Encyclopedia.com 


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