Crunk Added to Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Posted on July 12, 2007

Crunk is one of the new additions to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary. The dictionary defines crunk as "a style of Southern rap music featuring repetitive chants and rapid dance rhythms."

Closely following all the latest dictionary news is MTV. MTV contacted the dictionary and reports that crunk made it into the latest edition of the newspaper because the dictionary's editors followed its use from hip-hop magazines to sports magazines and finally to daily newspapers.

Peter Sokolowski, an associate editor for Merriam-Webster, told MTV News, "There's only one rule for a new word getting in: If it's likely to be found in printed reading matter - magazines, newspapers, novels - it's likely to get in. Our entire staff reads and marks everything we can get our hands on: Vibe magazine, magazines on pregnancy and sailing, math journals, physics journals, soup-can labels, menus. Basically, when a word gains a critical mass of citations, we'll include it."

Clearly, the usage of crunk has reached a "critical mass of citations."

Sokolowski also says, "We try to include words that aren't just trends. We're looking for words that will be referred to in the future and people won't need any explanation to know what it means. If the editor of a newspaper can publish a word and he or she expects readers to know what it means, we'll include it."

Sokolowski went on to tell MTV that Merriam-Webster had followed crunk's evolution from hip-hop magazines to sports magazines and finally to the New York Times. He acknowledged that crunk may not be a cool word anymore.

And yes, he's aware that including crunk in the dictionary suggests that it's no longer a "cool" word (this actually happened sometime around 2002), but that's just another part of the process: When your parents know what a word means, it's probably about time to include it in the dictionary.

Merriam-Webster's editors also could have searched the term on YouTube. There are nearly 17,000 video listings for "crunk." They also could have taken a look at Lil Jon's bling.

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