Merriam-Webster Drops an ‘F-Bomb’ into the Dictionary
It may not be good form to use the actual word, but the term for it is now officially a part of the English language. The word czars at Merriam-Webster have added the “F-bomb” to the dictionary.
Every year, the Merriam-Webster company chooses about 100 words to update their now 114-year-old Collegiate Dictionary. They spend all kinds of time finding evidence of a word’s usage in our daily language in anything from media to food labels. They must also check locker room speeches and Senate debates, because this year “F-bomb” made the list.
According to an associate editor at the company, the addition of F-bomb was inspired by none other than Bobby Knight and other F-bomb compatriots like Dick Cheney and Joe Biden. The word sleuths at Merriam-Webster say the term first appeared in 1988, in a Newsday story about Mets catcher Gary Carter, who was giving them and other foul (see what we did there?) language up. But the term didn’t really catch on until the late 90s, when the famously passionate Bobby Knight started slinging them around in a locker room tirade. The term became useful again in the news after both veeps Cheney and Biden dropped them on the Senate floor.
While the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary is by far the most mainstream, it’s not the only dictionary to have included F-bomb. It shows up in a lot of online dictionaries and reference sites, and Oxford University Press is also considering it for the next update of the New Oxford American Dictionary.
Some of the other terms that will now appear officially as words in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary include: sexting, flexitarian, obesogenic, energy drink, life coach, craft beer, e-reader, game changer, gassed (as slang for drained of energy), gastropub, geocaching, shovel-ready, systemic risk, underwater (as a word for owing too much on your mortgage) and tipping point.
Of course, if you want to know what they all mean, you’re going to have to look them up.