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Cedar revolution

This is the most recent example of a type of labelling invention that is becoming common. The earliest of this set was velvet revolution, referring to a non-violent political revolution, especially the events leading to the end of communist rule in Czechoslovakia in 1989. We have recently had, among others, the rose revolution in Georgia in 2003, the orange revolution and chestnut revolution, both in Ukraine in 2004, and, briefly, the purple revolution, which referred to Iraqis who raised their purple-stained fingers to show that they had voted in their country’s recent election. Cedar revolution refers to opposition to the Syrian presence in Lebanon; it appeared in early March 2005 in the US State Department’s publication Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004, in reference to the famous Biblical cedars of Lebanon, which are also featured on that country’s flag. The trick is showing signs that it may achieve the level of overuse and triviality of the infamous -gate suffix, since recent examples have not referred to revolutions but to political opposition or demonstrations of public opinion, albeit ones with political consequences.

Syria remained silent about the downfall of its puppet government in Lebanon yesterday after Prime Minister Omar Karami was brought down by people power — dubbed the Cedar Revolution.

Liverpool Daily Post, 2 Mar. 2005

The moment is starkly symbolized in Lebanon. Street protests in Beirut are being called the “cedar revolution” — cedar for Lebanon’s emblem, with echoes of Ukraine’s “orange revolution” and other uprisings in Eastern Europe.

USA Today, 7 Mar. 2005

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 12 Mar. 2005

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

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Last modified: 12 March 2005.