President's Day Etymology
The president's pr people might want us to view our chief executive as someone carrying out bold actions—leading, commanding, managing, organizing, budgeting, inspiring, presiding.
"Sitting" isn't on the list, but when we trace the word "president" to its Latin root, we find sedere, "to sit." The syllable "sed" gives us a clue that "sedentary" also arises—so to speak—from the same source. No way around it: the president is a sitter.
But don't take the etymologist's word for it. Here's what Harry Truman, the thirty-third president said about the job: "I sit here all day trying to persuade people to do the things they ought to have sense enough to do without my persuading them."
Given that the etymology of "president" teaches us that the president is "someone who sits," we're forced to conclude that the widely used phrase "sitting president" is a redundancy. But being redundant is hardly the nastiest label said about the job. While serving as president, Thomas Jefferson wrote: "...it brings nothing but increasing drudgery and daily loss of friends."