Urban Dictionary Goes to Court

No, UrbanDictionary.com isn't being sued. Rather, the popular slang site is being increasingly used by courts to understand street slang. According to a recent New York Times article, Urban dictionary was used, in the last year alone, to define "iron (“handgun”); catfishing (“the phenomenon of Internet predators that fabricate online identities”); dap (“the knocking of fists together as a greeting, or form of respect”); and grenade (“the solitary ugly girl always found with a group of hotties”)."

A concern of some linguistic experts is that there is no verification for posts on the site for it to be reliably used as an academic source. Another issue with Urban Dictionary is that some words and phrases simply have HUNDREDS of definitions. There are no filters for definitions popular with a certain demographic or location so how could a court pick between the definitions. Even if there was, how could a court pick a definition without stereotyping the speaker?

Since the judiciary has an uphill battle staying afloat of all the street slang out there and Webster's dictionary is never going to define phrases such as "awkward turtle," I wonder if there is really a way to academically and authoritatively keep track of what's being said on the street.

Image via Google Play

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