Fwd: Dictionary inclusion of unworthy words ["phat"]

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Sep 23 23:18:07 UTC 2002

At 11:18 AM -0400 9/23/02, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>I wonder why the local TV channel doesn't ask the OED to comment
>on why the OED includes slang words like _phat_.
Speaking of which...
Anyone watching ABC World News Tonight will have noticed the last
segment (promoted through the half hour) on why and how new words get
into "Webster's Dictionary".  This was a segment shot in Springfield,
at Merriam-Webster, and included comments by several lexicographers
there on such items as "netiquette" and "booty(licious)".   The
lexicographer who got the most air time was never identified by name,
but did explain to the world that M-W's evidence clearly indicates
that "phat" originated as an acronym of 'Pretty Hips And Thighs'.  Is
this something we actually know, or even universally believe?  Is
anyone here (from M-W or elsewhere) willing to divulge what this
evidence is?  I'm skeptical, as I always am of acronymic slang
derivations (especially for words that don't have a clear military or


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