I am not sure I understand Barack Obama's use of the word stein in the speech he delivered at John McCain's funeral:

And in fact on the surface, John and i could not have been more different. We're of different generations. I came from a broken home and never knew my father. John was the stein of one of America's most distinguished military families. I have a reputation for keeping cool, John not so much.

I have checked several dictionaries, and stein is a beer mug as I already know. But what does Obama mean here?

  • It's John was the son of one of America's most distinguished military families, as correctly reported by CNN in that link. You're citing an erroneous entry as scraped from the Internet by Merriam-Webster dictionary in an "example usage" for the unrelated word stein. Nov 25, 2018 at 14:38
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about a meaningless mistranscription / typo. Nov 25, 2018 at 14:39
  • @FumbleFingers I'm with sumelic on this and expect Obama used "scion", because he actually knew how to use words like that.
    – Andrew
    Nov 25, 2018 at 14:49
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    @Andrew: Well, now I've listened to the audio through sumelic's link, it's obvious he's saying scion, not son. But it's still an OffTopic question about a mistranscription, even if I happen to have cited a different mistranscription (by CNN) in my closevote text. Nov 25, 2018 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


Based on the context, I'm certain that Obama used the word scion, not "stein". As the American Heritage Dictionary says, scion in this context means

A descendant or heir, especially of a wealthy or prominent family: scion of the ruling dynasty.

You can listen to Obama speaking here; I don't hear "stein" at all. I hear /sk/ at the start: the linked video mistranscribes it as "sky on".

Using /sk/ in this word is actually unconventional: the pronunciation found in the Oxford English dictionary is "/ˈsaɪən/" ("SIGH-un"). But there's an obvious explanation for why Obama might have pronounced scion with /sk/: the influence of the many other words spelled with sc- and pronounced with /sk/. A similar (possibly more common) pronunciation variant with /sk/ instead of /s/ exists for the word proboscis.

Obama's use of /sk/ in this instance may actually have just been a slip of the tongue: he seems to have used a /k/-less pronunciation of scion in his eulogy for Beau Biden in 2015.

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