An unusually strong fear of Iraq, especially its ability to manufacture and use biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Also: Iraqnaphobia, Iraqniphobia.
Example Citation:
Now that September is here, President Bush can launch his "initial public offering" of stock in his newest product, Iraqnophobia.
— John Roberts, "Bush's war talk hides economic woes" (letter to the editor), The Tennessean, September 14, 2002
Earliest Citation:
Leno also expertly paced his show. He opened with a machine-gun barrage of one-liners, moving quickly from earthquakes, animals, condoms, something he called " Iraqnophobia," and the almost instantaneous rise in the price of gasoline as a result of events in the Middle East.
— Mark Marymont, "Leno show was long, but didn't drag," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, August 4, 1990
Today's word — a play on arachnophobia, an unusually strong fear of spiders — is one of those politically charged terms that becomes a kind of symbol for one side of a debate. I, acting on your behalf as a professionally neutral word sleuth, tend to dismiss such terms lest it appear that I'm taking sides in whatever debate is at hand. Unfortunately, some words can only be dismissed for so long, and then they insist upon proper lexical recognition. I realized that Iraqnophobia was such a term when it kept popping up: over a dozen citations this year alone. Sigh. (For the record, Iraqnophobia is being used almost exclusively by people who are against going to war with Iraq.)
Not surprisingly, this term first appeared the last time Iraq was in the news, when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The movie Arachnophobia was playing in theaters at the time, so the initial references were jokes that played off the movie's title. The honor of the earliest citation appears to be a tie. First up is the caption of an editorial cartoon by Clay Bennettt that appeared in the August 3, 1990 edition of the St. Petersburg Times. The cartoon shows a spider labeled "Iraq" menacing Kuwait, and the caption reads "Saddam Hussein Presents Iraqnophobia." On the same day, comedian Jay Leno performed in Little Rock, Arkansas, and he, too, used Iraqnophobia in his routine, which is commented upon in the earliest print citation, below. I have anecdotal evidence that David Letterman used the term in his August 2, 1990 show, but I can't confirm this.
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