Man who threatened Merriam-Webster over gender definitions pleads guilty

The OED 3rd edition has a 1785 cite that says

1785 F. Grose Classical Dict. Vulgar Tongue B… ,…the most offensive apellation that can be given to an English woman, even more provoking than that of w…re, as may be gathered from the regular Billinsgate [sic ] or St. Giles’s answers, ‘I may be a w…re, but can’t be a b…’

And that sense has cites going back to 1175, so…

The second and first editions might not have been so revelatory.

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Not to take a strike at my American friends, but it’s especially amusing to me that he would be annoyed about an editor of an American dictionary making up new words and changing definitions.

That’s what the American dictionary is…

If he wants a purer source then he needs to head to the Oxford English and start adding 'u’s to his words like a good boy.


Compared to what? There are many different versions of English, because English speakers live all over the world and have very different cultural contexts. Language evolves and serves our changing communication needs accordingly. The assumption that a particular form of British English (that’s of a particular class of people in a particular part of England), is the only “correct” kind of English is really just some bullshit to make people like King Charles feel okay about living in palaces and taking public monies to do so…

Also, the colonial concept of “purity” can die in a fire.


Go with the times, fam, ‘yeet’ is the word you’re looking for.


Hi Rob, I couldn’t help but notice that the linked abcnews article says:

The U.S. Attorney’s in the District of Massachusetts alleges that Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, CA,

(And no, my comment isn’t about the spelling of “Massachusetts”. I’ll let someone else handle that one. :wink: )

And a further thought: posting this comment has led me to wonder about this, from the linked article:

Hanson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence

Is it “interstate” because he lived in one state and Merriam-Webster is in another state? Or is it because the internet is everywhere and is automatically “interstate”? Or something else entirely?

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… am I doing this right :confused:


America has it right. It’s us Brits who kept on dicking around with the spelling.


Is it just me, or should this song be played on repeat in this guy’s cell for the duration of his (hopefully long) stay?

The version of English they speak in England (that’s where the name comes from)

Americans do love to get defensive about using a dialect of an existing language.

It’s ok, you don’t have to own everything.

Uh… which version? You do know that everyone in England doesn’t speak like dear old dead Lillibet, right? There are numerous accents and dialects just in England alone, not including other parts of the UK…

Gosh, really… I didn’t know that. Thanks for condescending to tell me! /s :roll_eyes: Seriously, treat others here with a basic modicum of respect and assume that they know really basic shit like where languages come from.

You are aware that the US is not the only country that speaks English right or that uses English as one of their many languages? Canada, SA, Uganda, Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Jamaica, Bahamas, etc, etc… a whole list of places where the British decided “we should own that” spent a while slaughtering people they saw as beneath them. And they all have their own versions of the language, because language is never static.

And, honestly…

Angry Harrison Ford GIF

If you care so much about being king of speaking-English-shit mountain, then have it, my friend. I never said I wanted it or took particular pride it in, or believed that I “owned” English. I would say that American english might have surpassed British English in many capacities, since we tend to have a bigger popular culture footprint these days than the UK does. I’d wager to bet that AAVE is probably more widely employed to some degree than standard American or British English, given the global popularity of hip hop.


Hanson has been threatening his ideological enemies for 15 - 20 years. On Wikipedia he’s known as Grawp or JaraxleArtemis. He’d been visited by the FBI before, but never was charged with anything before ths.


when the editors of the OED do their job, it’s not “pure” at all.

The OED is most interesting to me as a description of English (in all of its varieties)–but many people want their dictionaries to be a prescription for “good” English style. These goals are frequently at odds.

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I’m hoping for bigger and heavier than one of these


Erm… See above, mate!

I don’t like repeating myself, but there is plenty of evidence that “American” English is older and more traditional than our own, which we have bastardised since the 18th century with Francophonic style.
i.e. adding u’s where there were none before, changing z’s to s’s etc.


Tangentially related on how weird English spelling is and why…

But yeah… the only notion of some “pure” English is absurd on all levels… who was it that said the thing about English following other languages down dark alleyways knocks them out, and rifles through their pockets for nouns? Something like that…


I’d never heard that quote before. But I am very much going to use it, so ta. (which is trad Eng, rhymes with so far)


I’m not getting it correct, I’m sure, so let me see if I can find who said it…

Here we go! A Canadian speculative fiction writer James Nicoll:



“English is about as pure as a cribhouse wh*re”

I actually laughed out loud, nearly spat me beer out. He’s got some great quotes, what an excellent link.
I’ve bookmarked it, will peruse (posh Eng word) later at my leisure. :wink:


Neither people who live in England nor people who live in the United States use English the same way it was spoken or written at the time those two cultures began to split into distinct cultures circa the 17th Century. Modern “American” English is no less valid than modern “English” English.

Anyway, all versions of English are basically a mongrel language made up of bits and pieces stolen from other tongues. There’s nothing “pure” about it and never has been.


“But… but but but it’s the language of Shakespeare!” they’ll be crying soon enough. (Nobody tell them that Shakespeare is famous for just making up words out of thin air when the ones he wanted to use didn’t exist, no, don’t tell them that. It would probably break something.)