“”, Donald Trump posted on Twitter at midnight. But nobody really knows what it means.

The president’s cryptic and mysterious tweet has spawned memes and a lot of confusion as people work out what he was trying to say.

Even Merriam-Webster, the dictionary that has become one of Donald Trump’s most prominent and unlikely critics, had to make clear that it didn’t know what the word meant.

Almost certainly, Donald Trump was trying to write the word “coverage” when he wrote “covfefe”. Not only does it feature the same first three letters and fit neatly into the phrase “negative press coverage”, it’s one of Donald Trump’s favourite words.

He last posted it in March, when he was complaining about the New York Times’ reporting.

But it has been a favourite word of his even before he had launched his presidential bid or was complaining about the media.

What’s less clear is why Mr Trump only tweeted out what appears to be the first part of the tweet, leaving the sentence incomplete and with only a dependent clause to start it. Mr Trump was presumably going to finish the tweet with supposed proof that he was doing well.

He has sent out a number of such tweets in the past – he used the word “despite” three times on Twitter in March, for instance, all in tweets that attacked the news media.

The only other time that Donald Trump tweets the word “despite” is when he is talking about the Democrats. (He has tweeted the word “despite” nine times since he won the election in November last year, and every single post has been about the media or his political opposition.)

It may be that the president became flustered with writing a word that he has had to type repeatedly in recent months, and frustratedly bashed his keyboard before hitting the send button.

That would explain why he manage to end the word with the letters “fefe” – though f and e are close to the e and r of coverage, they are nowhere near the a needed to complete the word. As such, a simple typo seems unlikely unless Mr Trump is an especially imprecise typer.

That would also explain why the iPhone that Mr Trump sent the post from didn’t correct the word: it is simply too unlike the word that he was aiming for, coverage. The iPhone’s keyboard doesn’t autocorrect the word “covfefe”, and the closest suggestion that its spell check has is “coffee”. 

But some have suggested conspiracy theories: if you type “covfefe” into Google Translate and tell it that it’s Russian, then it translates it into “Soviet”. That has given some 

Google Translate actually suggests that the word is Samoan, if you use its “detect language” feature. But it can’t translate it.

It wouldn’t be the first time that someone in the White House tweeted out a mysterious code. In January, press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted the word “n9y25ah7” – a message that some presumed might have been his Twitter password – posting nonsense words twice in two days.

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