08.14.12

Gary Carter, Unwitting, Partial Inventor Of The F-Bomb

Posted in Baseball, non-sporting journalism at 3:20 pm by

The late Gary Carter was many things during his Hall of Fame career — All-Star catcher, commercial pitchman, devout Christian — but until now, I must admit I’ve never thought of his role in etemology history. With today’s news that “f-bomb” will appear in future editions of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, the company attempts to explain where the substitute for “fuck” originated. For all we know, The Kid might be the brains behind “dog dirt”, too. From Newsday :

Kory Stamper, an associate editor for Merriam-Webster, said she and her fellow word spies at the Massachusetts company traced it back to 1988, in a Newsday story by Steve Marcus that had Mets catcher Gary Carter talking about how he had given them up, along with other profanities.

Marcus said the usage was common even then. “It became part of the baseball jargon,” Marcus said. “It was something in baseball that people were using at that time. It was similar to the way that ‘saves’ snuck in and became accepted. It was convenient. You didn’t have to use profanity, but still got your point across.”

But published use of the word didn’t really take off until the late ’90s, after Bobby Knight went heavy on the F-bombs during a locker room tirade.

“We saw another huge spike after Dick Cheney dropped an F-bomb in the Senate in 2004,” and again in 2010 when Vice President Joe Biden did the same thing in the same place, Stamper said.

“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,” she said.

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