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The 13 words you can’t write about Hillary Clinton anymore

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chats with those around her during a ceremony to induct her into the Irish America Hall of Fame on March 16, 2015 in New York City. The Irish America Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 and recognizes exceptional figures in the Irish American community. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images)

Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for a very long time, which means much has been written about her -- including quite a few adjectives. But some of these adjectives are now off-limits.

That's according to the Clinton "Super Volunteers," who have promised to track the media's use of words they believe to be sexist code words. The New York Times's Amy Chozick tweeted a missive she received from the group (which we would note is almost definitely not connected to official Team Clinton) on Wednesday:

So these words are now off the table: "polarizing," "calculating," "disingenuous," "insincere," "ambitious," "inevitable," "entitled," "over-confident," "secretive," "will do anything to win," "represents the past," and "out of touch." 

The thinking here, of course, is that these kinds of words are attached to Clinton in a way that they wouldn't be attached to male candidates -- that people wouldn't call Clinton "ambitious" if she weren't a woman, that there is a double-standard for such traits.

But do the media actually use these words to describe Clinton? Well, yes, but only if you loosely define "the media" as "the conservative media" and "people who don't like Hillary Clinton."

In fact, if you Google "Hillary Clinton" and "calculating," there are 140,000 results. The first slew of results come from conservative outlets like The Daily Caller, The Blaze, Breitbart, the Daily Telegraph and also the Republican "America Rising" super PAC. One result comes from the Los Angeles Times, but it's a defense Bill Clinton lodged in 2007 against the attacks.

"Calculating" is almost completely something used to attack Clinton or describe the attacks on her. The same goes for "disingenuous," "insincere," "entitled," "secretive," "over-confident," "represents the past" and "out of touch." These are all loaded words  and not terms used casually by mainstream media journalists like Chozick to describe a politician.

The same cannot be said for some other words. "Polarizing" is a word that has long followed Clinton, as has "ambitious," and "inevitable."

And some of these words should indeed be reined in -- if not necessarily for the reason this group wants.

"Polarizing," for example, is a word that now describes pretty much every well-known politician in the country, up to and including Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The politician who isn't polarizing is the exception rather than the rule. And it usually means that the politician just isn't well known enough to be polarizing. Yet.

And while we're at it, go ahead and retire "inevitable," too. We've been talking about it for a while, sure, but it's probably been overdone (not too mention it aims to predict the future). Now it's all about whether Clinton gets any capable primary opponents. Until then, call her a huge favorite and leave it at that.

As for "ambitious," nobody runs for president without having an extraordinary amount of ambition. Not Ted Cruz, not Barack Obama, not Mitt Romney or Jeb Bush, and definitely not Bill Clinton -- all of whom have had their unusual amount of ambition chewed over by the media.

Correction: A tweet from an account set up to look like it was affiliated with this group has been removed from this post, since it appears to be a hoax. For more on the saga, see Elspeth Reeve's piece.