America’s Courtrooms Now Being Polluted With Urban Dictionary Definitions


Ratchet? (Am I using it right?)

Ratchet. (Am I using it right?)

Get ready to retire the term “sober as a judge,” because we’re about to explode your notion of America’s legal system as staid and dignified. The New York Times reports that courts are, increasingly, turning to Urban Dictionary, that Internet cesspool tended by dirty-minded 14-year-olds, as an authoritative source on slang.

The Times says

In the last year alone, the Web site was used by courts 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”).

Says the creator of Urban Dictionary, Aaron Peckham: “The whole point of Urban Dictionary is we are defining our own language as we speak it.”

However, the senior editor of The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (brb, writing a cover letter) has his doubts:

“Using them in court is a terrible idea; they don’t claim to be an authority or a reference,” he said. “Some of the stuff on their site is very good, but there is more chaff than wheat. It is a lazy person’s resource.”

Watch out, pal, they’ll hold you in contempt of court for that kind of talk.