atkins-bookshelf-wordsDefinition: a person who betrays his country by collaborating with an invading or occupying enemy force; the head of a puppet government. The word is not capitalized.

Synonyms: backstabber, Benedict Arnold, double-crosser, Judas, traitor, turncoat

Etymology: Quisling is an eponym, which seems like it was plucked out of a Dickens novel, named after fascist Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonsson Quisling (18887-1945) who formed the Nasjonal Samling Party in 1933. Quisling’s pro-Nazi beliefs were very unpopular with Norwegians, so Quisling turned to Adolf Hitler and asked him to invade Norway and make him the head of the puppet government. When Germany began invading Norway, Quisling quickly proclaimed a coup d’etat, installing what was known as the Quisling regime. Quisling served as Minister-President, supporting policies and laws that led to the arrest and murder of many innocent Norwegians, from 1942 until 1945. After World War II, Quisling was charged with high treason, murder, embezzlement and executed. Hans Fredrik Dahl, author of Quisling: A Study in Treachery (1999), wrote that because of his egregious villainy, Quisling became the most written-about person in Norwegian history. Although Quisling’s name is now synonymous with traitor and has joined the ranks of other dishonorable, contemptible traitors like Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot, his is the only one that is not capitalized.

Read related posts: Words Invented by Dickens

For further reading: Anonyponymous: The Forgotten People Behind Everyday Words by John Marciano, Bloomsbury (2009)
Quisling: A Study in Treachery by Hans Frederik Dahl, Cambridge University Press (1999)

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