Editorial: Gary Carter's 'f-bomb' defines discretion

The entry The entry "f-bomb" is one of the 15 new additions in the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. (Aug. 10, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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Language constantly changes to keep up with the evolution of society.

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary got its annual face-lift Tuesday, amending previous definitions and adding about 100 new words, including "e-reader," "flexitarian" and "sexting."

The most attention-grabbing addition came straight from these pages 24 years ago in a quotation by then-Mets player Gary Carter.

The catcher, known for avoiding profanity, was explaining to Newsday reporter Steven Marcus how in earlier years he had indeed used foul language when ejected from games. "That was when I still used the f-bomb," he said.

Carter could have stuck with the derivative, but instead found a cleaner way to say a dirty thing.

"F-bomb" found its way into lexicon and was later used in headlines across the country to describe the foul-mouthed utterings of the likes of politicians Dick Cheney and Joe Biden. Now it has wandered into the pages of the nation's most popular dictionary.

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Additions to the 114-year-old compendium often include technological and scientific terms, along with popular slang and cultural references. The edition will include altered definitions to better depict our depressing economic times, revising "underwater" to include the deflating discovery that you owe more on a mortgage than your property is worth.

Everything is in constant change, and language must stay with the times.

Now watch what you say -- you may change the dictionary one day.

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