Ed. note: This post is full of words that may, as we say in the office, “offend the tender sensibilities” of some. Caveat lector.
The first thing you cover in Style and Defining class is that any word that meets the three criteria for entry (widespread edited use, sustained usage over a certain period of time, and lexical value) is eligible for entry. From your first moments as a lexicographer to your last, this is the core rationale for everything you do. It is the rule which underlies the work of any descriptivist lexicographer; the practical extension of our defining philosophy; and the mechanism by which we attend to this noble calling in the service of education, literacy, language.
That said, you will still be flustered the first time you dip into your defining batch and pull out a handful of citations for “fuckwad.” Continue reading