“F-bomb” is now officially a word.
The abbreviated swear word has found its way into Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary this year, joining other recent inclusions like “tweet” as acknowledged parts of the American lexicon.
The term “F-bomb” has actually been seen in newspapers for more than 20 years, the Associated Press reported, but on Tuesday made its first official entry into Merrian-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Other new words included sexting, flexitarian, obesogenic, energy drink and life coach.
The addition is interesting for Merriam-Webster’s, which has a reputation as lagging behind other dictionaries in terms of adding commonly used words, USA Today reported.
About 100 new words are added each year to the 114-year-old dictionary, as officials working there study evidence of usage from a number of places ranging from newspapers to food and beverage labels.
“F-bomb” actually had its start with someone of a celebrity. Kory Stamper, an associate editor for Merriam-Webster, told the Associated Press that the company traced the word back to 1988, in a Newsday story that talked about how the now-deceased New York Mets catcher Gary Carter had given up profanity.
The word took off in the late ’90s thanks to another sports legend. College basketball coach Bobby Knight used the word during a locker room tirade, helping it lead to wider usage.
“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,” Stamper said.
It’s not the first time a professional athlete has helped coin a popular phrase. In the 1980s, African import and NBA giant Manute Bol’s shaky use of English reportedly led him to have difficulty taking blame for mistakes in practice. When Bol flubbed a play, instead of saying “My fault” or “I’m sorry,” he simply said, “My bad.” Teammates found the phrase funny and repeated it, and the phrase eventually caught on nationally.
As for “F-bomb,” Merriam-Webster’s defines the word as “the word f–k —used metaphorically as a euphemism.”