Watergate definition by Webster's New World
Origin: after Watergate, building complex in Washington, D.C., housing Democratic Party headquarters, burglarized (June, 1972) under direction of government officials
Watergate definition by American Heritage Dictionary
Origin: After Watergate, a building complex in Washington, D.C., the site of a burglary (1972) that gave rise to the scandals.
Watergate - Cultural Definition
An incident in the presidency of Richard Nixon that led to his resignation. In June 1972, burglars in the pay of Nixon's campaign committee broke into offices of the Democratic party. In a complex chain of events, high officials on Nixon's staff who had been connected to the burglary used illegal means to keep the burglary from being fully investigated; these actions by Nixon's staff were known as the “cover-up.” Nixon arranged for secret tape-recording of many conversations in his office regarding the cover-up and then refused to hand the tapes over to investigators from Congress. After months of legal maneuvers, Nixon finally released the tapes, which showed that he had known about criminal activity by his staff. By this time, the House of Representatives was one step away from impeachment of Nixon. Leaders of Congress told him that if he were impeached and tried, he would very likely be removed from office. He resigned the presidency in August 1974, complaining of a lack of support from Congress. Several of his assistants were convicted of various crimes connected with Watergate. Nixon himself was never indicted and was pardoned by his successor, President Gerald Ford.
- Many people became more scornful of government after the Watergate incident. Others were encouraged that the investigation and convictions were finally carried out.