Fist Bump Finally Legal

The days before the fist bump.

Though you still shouldn’t use it in your 1L writing assignment, fist bump is now recognized as a word in the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary for 2011.  Fist bump is one of approximately 150 words added to the new edition.

Dictionaries add new words to reflect changing times, thoughts, and ideas.  You might wonder: the Obamas made the fist bump famous in 2008, why recognize the word now?  Well, the editorial staff who write dictionaries want to be sure that new words are truly part of the vocabulary before adding words—so there is a bit of delay between the introduction of a new word to spoken vocabulary and the formal addition of a new word to the dictionary.

The Concise Oxford English Dictionary also recently issued a 12th edition, commemorating 100 years since the first edition.  Approximately 400 new words are included in the new edition, so parents can defensibly take teens to task for sexting, cougars can hunt men without using their claws, and we can all woot with enthusiasm.

If you’re trying to find the meaning of a new word—that’s not yet in the traditional dictionary sources—don’t forget that you can check slang dictionaries.  One online source for that is  When you want an explanation of jeggings, you can find one in a slang dictionary.

Dictionaries also eliminate words that are no longer common parlance.  Sadly, no longer can we use a growlery—“a place to ‘growl’ in; jocularly applied to a person’s private sitting room,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary online—that may happen instead in a man cave.  You can access the Oxford English Dictionary online through the University Library’s database list.

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