‘F-Bomb,’ ‘Bucket List,’ ‘Man Cave’ Among Words Added To Dictionary

The newest edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary will have another set of new words added to it, some of them more colorful than others:

(AP) NEW YORK — It’s about freakin’ time.

The term “F-bomb” surfaced in newspapers more than 20 years ago but will land Tuesday for the first time in the mainstream Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, along with sexting, flexitarian, obesogenic, energy drink and life coach.

In all, the company picks about 100 additions for the 114-year-old dictionary’s annual update, gathering evidence of usage over several years in everything from media to the labels of beer bottles and boxes of frozen food.

So who’s responsible for lobbing F-bomb far and wide? Kory Stamper, an associate editor for Merriam-Webster, said she and her fellow word spies at the Massachusetts company traced it back to 1988, in a Newsday story that had the now-dead Mets catcher Gary Carter talking about how he had given them up, along with other profanities.

But the word didn’t really take off until the late `90s, after Bobby Knight went heavy on the F-bombs during a locker room tirade.

“We saw another huge spike after Dick Cheney dropped an F-bomb in the Senate in 2004,” and again in 2010 when Vice President Joe Biden did the same thing in the same place, Stamper said.

“It’s a word that is very visually evocative. It’s not just the F-word. It’s F-bomb. You know that it’s going to cause a lot of consternation and possible damage,” she said.

Biden’s F-bomb actually took place at the White House during the signing ceremony for the Affordable Care Act, of course, but I’m sure that the Vice-President would agree that this addition to the dictionary is a Big Effing Deal!

Further details on the new words being added to the dictionary can be found here.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. I have kind of an opposite time capsule. It’s a 1959 American College Standard Reference Dictionary. At about five or six inches thick, it is amazing. It has sections on business law. It starts with basic math, then fractions, and explains how interest is calculated. It explains how a secretary should handle “A Visitor In the Office.”

    .. it is the internet.

  2. rodney dill says:

    @john personna:

    .. it is the internet.

    That… and a CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.

  3. CSK says:

    It’s interesting that the primary definition of “gassed” is still “drunk.”

    To say that someone who’s drained of energy is “gassed,” which would imply fully fueled up on petrol, ethanol, or alcohol, appears contradictory. If I gas up my car, under the new definition, am I actually draining its tank?

  4. @CSK:

    I think I remember that usage from old movies, but I’ve never heard it in use in California.

    Probably the first usage of “gassed” I’d think of would be chemical weapons.

  5. CSK says:

    @john personna:

    I should have noted that the primary SLANG definition of “gassed” is still “drunk” according to Merriam-Webster. I agree that the non-slang definition would be “exposed to airborne chemical agents.”

    As for “gassed” (slang) meaning “drunk,” I’ve mostly heard that word used by people over 65.

  6. rodney dill says:

    I’ve heard ‘gassed’ used in sports commentary, specifically Football. Players are gassed when they’re out of energy. In practices they even run ‘gassers’. I don’t know the origin of its use there, or if its spread to basketball or other sports.

  7. wr says:

    F-bomb — possibly the dumbest phrase in the American lexicon and part of the infanitilization of our culture.

    It’s a word, not a bomb, and it’s a word that just about everyone in the country uses multiple times every day. And yet we have to pretend it’s some kind of taboo.