Words in the news: Hush Money

A short explanation of a word you newsnerds are sure to be seeing a lot in the news: hush money.

You will see this word in news articles about an upcoming case. Soon the Manhattan district attorney’s office will begin presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s role in paying “hush money” to a porn star.

Here is a brief summary of the case and why this could lead to a criminal indictment: In 2018 there were news reports that right before the presidential election in 2016, Trump arranged a payment of $130,000 to a porn star with whom he had sex during his marriage to his current wife. The payoff was to buy the silence of the porn star.  This payoff may have violated federal campaign laws. In fact, Trump’s former lawyer Michale Cohen, was convicted and sent to prison for making the payment,  but at that time — during Trump’s presidency — no charges were brought against Trump. 

The word “hush” is used as an informal command for quiet. It’s part of the first line in a lullabye. It can be used as a command similar to “Shut up” or “Quiet!

The expression “hush money” means money paid to someone to “hush” them or keep them quiet. It is similar to the word bribe, but applies specifically to money paid in return for silence. In Trump’s case, he could be accused of paying the porn star hush money, so that she wouldn’t go to the press about her sexual encounters with him.