PopVocab: Ivanka the Scion (and Her Mini-Mogul)

Jen Dziura —  July 27, 2011

A scion is a descendant or heir, generally of a rich person. And while there’s nothing in the dictionary definition about being male, culturally speaking, the word scion is almost always used to describe the son of a powerful man.

I have used scion in class as an example of denotation vs. connotation (the dictionary definition of a word versus the “feeling” or cultural baggage of the word), and was thinking: I’ve never heard anyone describe a woman as a scion, but there’s no reason you couldn’t. For instance, Ivanka Trump, daughter of Donald Trump.

While Paris Hilton is an “heiress” (no one thinks she’s going to end up running the Hilton hotel brand someday), Ivanka is a mogul in her own right.

A mogul is “an important or powerful person” or “a rich or powerful person.” The word derives from Moghul or Mughal, a member of the Muslim dynasty founded by Baber (or a soldier supporting that dynasty) that ruled India until 1857.

Another word that comes to us from Hindi is nabob, “a person of wealth and prominence.” This originally was a European who made his fortune in India or elsewhere in the East. (Indian restaurants called Nawab or other variant spellings are referencing this colonial legacy.)

A variety of celebrity-type articles have referred to Ivanka’s newborn baby as a “mini-mogul.” Interestingly, when I Googled to find an example, all the articles that used the phrase “mini-mogul” were from before Ivanka actually gave birth. No one has yet used the phrase to refer to the baby after it was born. Maybe because it’s a girl? Interesting.

Jen Dziura

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