Tom Brady credited for addition of ‘GOAT’ to Merriam-Webster dictionary
Tom Brady has long been hailed by many as the NFL’s greatest of all-time, or GOAT. It would appear such accolades in part inspired Merriam-Webster to add the term “GOAT” to its dictionary.
Boston.com has a fascinating piece about the extraordinary amount of work and research performed by Merriam-Webster’s “word detectives,” detailing precisely how a word ultimately is added to the dictionary.
“We will watch a term like this for a while,” Peter Sokolowski, the editor at large of Merriam-Webster, told Boston.com. “It’ll go in the database, and we’ll basically keep noticing it. That’s the thing: We want to see the word fit three criteria. One, is it used by many people in many places? Two, is it being used consistently and increasingly? In other words, long term use. And three, we call it meaningful use. That means of the people using this term, do they use it the same way or to mean the same thing?”
The latest edition of Merriam-Webster dictionary has 840 new entries, one of which is GOAT. Which brings us to Brady’s role in convincing the “word detectives” to add GOAT to the latest edition, as explained by Sokolowski:
While there’s no question that the term GOAT is also used with reference to Serena Williams, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Lionel Messi, mentions of “GOAT” together with “Brady” are between two and four times more frequent than “GOAT” with any of these other famous athletes in the NEXIS database of newspapers.
The article also interestingly details several compelling anecdotes about the GOAT’s entry into the lexicon. Muhammad Ali is credited as its originator. The first discovered use of the term online was in 1996 in reference to Orlando Magic icon great Penny Hardaway. And LL Cool J in 2000 sent the term’s popularity into the stratosphere with his “G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time)” album.
But without one Tom Brady, it appears GOAT never would have made it into the Merriam-Webster dictionary.