Urban Dictionary

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Wed Jan 8 14:27:58 UTC 2014

UD can be a useful tool if used with discretion, however. It is a
quick-and-dirty tool for checking if an alleged slang term is in actual
circulation or to see what the possible range of meanings for a term might
be. And it is often easy to distinguish the joke or made-up senses from
those that are recorded by thoughtful amateurs (the latter of which can
actually be useful and sometimes do contain actual usage citations).

Like any dictionary, one needs to know the particulars of its scope and
methodology before employing it usefully.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Jonathan Lighter
Sent: Wednesday, January 08, 2014 8:44 AM
Subject: Re: Urban Dictionary

Now that UD has a swado-hip following, however, some its coinages will
certainly get into the shite-geist.


On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 8:31 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>wrote:

> I used to refer to Urban Dictionary daily.
> If you know what you're looking for, it's like going into a playground
> and saying, "Hey, teens! What do you think of this groovy word?" And
> believing whatever they say.
> Without analysis.
> If you're looking for new terms in actual use, however, dream up your own.
>  My professional opinion is that the majority of entries that are
> unfamiliar to say, us, are jokes and coinages used by more or less nobody.
> I think it was 1946 when Morroe Berger wrote in _American Speech_ on
> "Some Excesses of Slang Compilers." That essay goes double now.
> JL
> On Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 8:12 AM, Christopher Philippo <toff at mac.com> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Christopher Philippo <toff at MAC.COM>
>> Subject:      Urban Dictionary
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> ----------
>> Wortham, Jenna. "A Lexicon of Instant Argot." N.Y. Times. January 3,
>> 2014.
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/04/technology/a-lexicon-of-the-interne
>> t-updated-by-its-users.html
>> A claim in the article that Urban Dictionary documents regional
>> Internet vernacular in real time in an important way is absurd. The
>> majority of it appears to be immature (and not infrequently
>> disgusting or bigoted) attempts at humor, not actual words anybody
>> uses.  Wortham mentions "recent casual references by figures like Jon
>> Stewart on 'The Daily Show'".  That's
>> misleading: when I've heard him mention it, it's in reference to the
>> disgusting contrived sexual acts people invent solely for Urban
>>  The often terrible examples and the lack of citations or even
>> information about what regions of the world or the Internet where the
>> terms are allegedly being used keeps the site at sub-amateur level.
>> ADS doesn't seem to think it is "important" or "the anthropologist of
>> the Internet" (but if I'm wrong, please correct me):
>> "A freewheeling and erratic compilation of words, invented and real,
>> submitted, defined, and approved by users."
>> http://www.americandialect.org/urbandictionarycom
>> Kaufman, Leslie. "For the Word on the Street, Courts Call Up an
>> Online Witness." N.Y. Times. May 20, 2013.
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/business/media/urban-dictionary-fin
>> ds-a-place-in-the-courtroom.html
>> That there are judges citing Urban Dictionary in decisions is fairly
>> alarming - and that it's cheaper than using an expert because it's
>> free is not a good reason to use it.  It calls to mind a worse example:
>> "In determining whether to release the documents [in response to a
>> Freedom of Information Law request], the school searched both
>> Wikipedia and Google, Gauthier said."
>> http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/college/mensbasketball/ameast/s
>> tory/2012-03-29/stony-brook-steve-pickiell-contract-secret/53838432/1
>> The State University of New York Freedom of Information Law Appeals
>> Officer citing Wikipedia is troublesome, and her citing "Google"
>> (i.e. "the
>> Internet") is akin to citing "the library".  Ms. Gauthier has a
>> salary of about $90,000 (
>> http://new-york-employees.findthedata.org/l/2282018/Geraldine-M-Gauth
>> ier) yet does work that wouldn't be accepted in a report by an
>> elementary school student.  I've found writing her about problems of
>> SUNY compliance with FOIL, the NY Personal Privacy Protection Law,
>> and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to be useless:
>> she's never responded once.  (Among other things, I once had to file a
FOIL request for my own grades for a class !
>>  because the professor wouldn't provide them, and my department
>> advisor, the Registrar, and others wouldn't help me obtain them.  I
>> was charged
>> $30.00 to obtain my own grades for a class.  Nice scam they have
>> going
>> there!)
>> Christopher K. Philippo
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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