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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Slate: Did Gary Carter Invent the “F-Bomb”?

And as Mike Scully noted: “So happy I got to see “bucket list” added to the dictionary before I die.”

The latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary is out today, and it contains a handful of zeitgeisty new words and phrases, among them sexting, flexitarian, energy drink, and life coach. The one that caught my eye, however, is f-bomb—not because of the word itself, but because of its purported origins. Apparently, the earliest usage the dictionary’s editors uncovered came from Gary Carter, in a 1988 Newsday story about the late, great catcher who made his mark primarily with the Expos and Mets. (He also played with the Dodgers and Giants.)

That Newsday story is not online, but it is available on LexisNexis. It was written by Steve Marcus and headlined “Carter Thrives as Pinch Hitter.” Here’s the paragraph that is now a part of lexical history:

  Carter rarely uses profanity, so he was taken aback when umpire Greg Bonin leveled some on him in the seventh inning Monday night in Pittsburgh. Carter was called out on strikes and told Bonin he thought the pitch was outside. “He started cursing me and said I accused him of being a liar,” Carter said. “After he started cursing, I walked away and I said, ‘Why are you cursing at me?’ He said, ‘I talk like that.’ I said, ‘OK, guttermouth.’ “Carter said he has been thrown out only twice in the majors, both times by Eric Gregg. “That was when I used to use the F-bomb.”

It’s fitting, I suppose that a player who had stopped cursing would introduce f-bomb into common parlance. Someone who generally refrains from profanity is probably more likely to use such a profanity-avoiding phrase. And a converted non-swearer is also, perhaps, more likely to recognize the awesome power of that particular four-letter word, and thus to verbally grant it metaphorically explosive powers.

Repoz Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:09 PM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. JJ1986 Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4208237)
flexitarian


A what?
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:32 PM (#4208248)
Someone who eats primarily a vegetarian diet, but who sometimes eats meat.
   3. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4208266)
flexitarian
That's the real f-bomb
   4. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: August 14, 2012 at 04:56 PM (#4208274)
Hmmmm. I've been a flexitarian for years & didn't know it.

I don't think I like the word, though, so I'll ignore it.
   5. Delino DeShields & Yarnell Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:07 PM (#4208289)
I can't remember where I read it but I think the mayor of Hiroshima came up with WTF. As in What the F- was that?
   6. asinwreck Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4208312)
And Reggie thinks Carter isn't a worthy Hall of Famer. Please.
   7. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: August 14, 2012 at 05:36 PM (#4208335)
I would love it if there were transcripts of player/umpire manager/umpire arguments. That would be good reading.
   8. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: August 14, 2012 at 07:04 PM (#4208422)
Especially ones involving Billy Martin and Earl Weaver.
   9. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: August 14, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4208472)
Sounds like Gary may have invented "F-Bomb" or "the F-Bomb," but he definitely did not invent the "F-Bomb."
   10. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM (#4208528)
I thought Dick Cheney invented the F-bomb.
   11. Ryan Lind Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4208537)
WTF dates back to the 1800's

Some samples:

The language of these tales is more slovenly wtf think, than that of Per dual


Aperio and operio are both derived from over, or the Greek uper (wtf) because sometimes that which is over us becomes thereby disclosed and apparent


that they also may be better by the definitive treaty, and cannot without folly be worse ; and then all the undecided points wtf!


And my favorite:

France, in 1744, declared wtf against England

   12. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 14, 2012 at 11:46 PM (#4208545)
There's no way LBJ never dropped one on the floor of the Senate. Im sure he predates The Penguin on that one.

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