Example with a context (Vox news story: The real costs of Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican slur controversy, explained):


Liberal Latino and immigration advocacy groups, on the other hand, are happy to treat Trump as a serious Republican candidate, for the purposes of demanding that other Republicans and the RNC distance themselves from him. They're treating Trump as the Republican id: He expresses racist feelings that some liberals suspect many Republicans secretly harbor but lack the cojones to say out loud.


Left-leaning Latino and immigration advocates treat Trump as the id of white conservatives, saying things that Ted Cruz, for example, wouldn't say.

How do you exactly understand this type of figure of speech?

  • 7
    Have you looked it up in a dictionary? Or are you familiar with the theories of Sigmund Freud? This is the standard English translation of Freud's "das Es" in his theory of the structure of the psyche. Jul 10, 2015 at 13:09
  • It actually did not occur to me that they were referring to the psychological concept of the 'id' until I saw @StoneyB's comment, and I'm a native speaker that took some psychology courses in college, so I think this is a pretty reasonable question. I can certainly see how the dictionary definition might not be that helpful, as well.
    – DCShannon
    Jul 11, 2015 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


ID is common as an abbreviation for identification, but it will usually be capitialized if meant that way.

Id is a term that comes from classic Freudian psychoanalytic theory, where the psyche is explained as having three parts that are in constant conflict with one another, and the id is the most primitive or "base" of them. (The Wikipedia article explains it well.)

A child, for example, because his/her personality has not had time to mature, often reacts purely on instinct and desire, and without regard to history or knowledge - he/she could be considered to be mostly driven by id without the "refinement" of ego or super-ego. Now this could be a good or a bad thing - a good thing if honesty/passion is needed, a bad thing if tact/politeness is needed.

Not necessarily endorsing the meaning of the sentences, but that is how I would interpret the use of id in them.

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