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People Can't Get Over The Dictionary's — Yes, The Dictionary's — Savage Clapback

"This needs to go down in the dictionary as an example of ownership."

Posted on September 7, 2016, at 3:04 p.m. ET

It was a quiet Wednesday morning when Merriam-Webster — the most trustworthy American English dictionary — sent out a cheeky tweet about how it's OK to use "mad" to mean "angry."

In response, Gabriel Roth, a senior editor at Slate, decided to compare Merriam-Webster to a "chill parent who lets your friends come over and get high."

In a series of tweets, Roth critiqued the dictionary, suggesting that it was "somehow narcissistically gratifying" for Merriam-Webster to act like the "chill" dictionary without rules.

And then, in the most brutal clapback that has ever been served by a dictionary, Merriam-Webster told Roth: "No one cares how you feel."

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And people were so fucking there for it.

"This needs to go down in the dictionary as an example of ownership."

Everyone agreed that this was an "iconic drag."

"Usually it's people that burn books not the other way around."

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Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's editor at large, told BuzzFeed News that the "banter was done in the spirit of good fun."

Responding to Roth's critique of the dictionary's need to act like a "chill parent," Sokolowski said that it was something Merriam-Webster has heard many times before. He said that while languages follow rules, "the only constant about language is change." "Dictionaries record those changes, and 'mad' used to mean 'angry' — the post to which [Roth] was responding to — is a good example of such a change. Gabriel Roth’s assertion that we are somehow pandering about language rules in order to be the 'popular' parent or authority figure is one that we have heard many times, but meanings of words aren’t created by dictionary-makers, they are used by many people in many places, and we then derive definitions from evidence of actual usage." Sokolowski said that the dictionary took advantage of Roth's wording to make a "jokey response" and that they were glad that so many people paid attention to it. "In the spirit of Twitter, people can sometimes play a little rough, but we assure you that Merriam-Webster’s banter was done in the spirit of good fun and that no harm was intended by any comments made," Sokolowski said.
Twitter: @PeterSokolowski

Responding to Roth's critique of the dictionary's need to act like a "chill parent," Sokolowski said that it was something Merriam-Webster has heard many times before.

He said that while languages follow rules, "the only constant about language is change."

"Dictionaries record those changes, and 'mad' used to mean 'angry' — the post to which [Roth] was responding to — is a good example of such a change. Gabriel Roth’s assertion that we are somehow pandering about language rules in order to be the 'popular' parent or authority figure is one that we have heard many times, but meanings of words aren’t created by dictionary-makers, they are used by many people in many places, and we then derive definitions from evidence of actual usage."

Sokolowski said that the dictionary took advantage of Roth's wording to make a "jokey response" and that they were glad that so many people paid attention to it.

"In the spirit of Twitter, people can sometimes play a little rough, but we assure you that Merriam-Webster’s banter was done in the spirit of good fun and that no harm was intended by any comments made," Sokolowski said.

Some sympathized with Roth, who in all likelihood never foresaw getting owned by a dictionary.

But people just couldn't get over Merriam-Webster's savagery.

Don't mess with Merriam-Webster.

@MerriamWebster Damn! Clap back like @rihanna right there. Don't mess.👏👏 @gabrielroth

Roth understandably did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.

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