So What Is The Origin of The Term ‘Nanny State,’ Anyway?


Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long been lambasted for turning New York City into a “nanny state” because of his mandates against transfats, outdoor smoking, fun, and now, supersized sodas.

And if that creepy Bloomberg-meets-Mrs. Doubtfire ad didn’t completely freak you out, you might have reacted to continued use of the term with curiosity.

Because we’re total word nerds, we wondered: So what’s the origin of the term ‘nanny state,’ anyway?

Most say that the term was coined by British MP Iain Macleod in 1965.

Macleod used the term in his Spectator column, “Qoodle,” to rail against allegedly overreaching, overprotective government policies.

Some, such as the Telegraph‘s Philip Johnston, counter that legendary British broadcaster Bernard Levin came up with it in the 1980s.

Whatever the case, Levin also used nanny state to espouse these same anti-welfare ideas.

It’s not clear precisely when “nanny state” became popular in the American lexicon.

And that’s really all we can tell you for right now…

So, there you go: Now, you kind of know some background on one of the most popular terms du jour.