Of course, Urban Dictionary is also a collection of teenage juvenile humor, often humor about sexual practices that are the subject of urban legends (er, Penis McFlurry?). These are not just trifles, but ultimately harmless terms. Sectarian words and definitions have thrived on the site, but Peckham believes offensive words should remain intact. A quick search for trending terms shows that users are particularly irritable (or nervous) about women`s bodies (e.g., twatopotamus) and sex between men (e.g., vaginal intolerance). The jurisprudence is based on the fact that, while similarity may be an appropriate measure in assessing the accepted definition of a word, there is no guarantee that the Urban Dictionary`s «top-rated definition» is a good way to judge it. In 2009, State Department of Motor Vehicles v. Junge reached the Nevada Supreme Court after the DMV denied William Junge the renewal of his personalized «HOE» license plate. Urban Dictionary was at the center of the debate, as it was the only source the DMV relied on to deny the dossier on the grounds that the word slang was for «whore.»  The Nevada Supreme Court confirmed that «definitions are provided by the user, may be personal to the user and do not always reflect generally accepted definitions of words» and that, therefore, «reasonableness alone would not accept the entries in the urban dictionary as sufficient to support the conclusion that the word HOE is offensive or inappropriate.»  In fact, Mr. Junge did not intend to use his license plate to invoke a colloquial meaning, as he actually wanted it to be «TAHOE» and had to change his choice because this plate was not available.  In this case, the «common» meaning of a word, as determined by the Urban Dictionary, was unnecessary.
The way dictionaries prefer to work is that they prefer to wait in time to see how a word develops. They also prefer to see it in a variety of sources. And these people are actually going to testify in court about what a slang word means, and their point is that Urban Dictionary, because it`s so current, it`s so instantaneous that it really reflects the views of a small population on what a word means and really shouldn`t be used as a mass source – as a judicial source. CONAN: I`m wondering, is that – isn`t there a similar problem with, say, slang terms, you know, scientific terminology, you know, scientific terminology or mathematical terminology that`s not in the dictionary yet? LASTOWKA: That`s right. You know, I think if you`re a lawyer representing a client, and there`s a word that you think the judge doesn`t understand, you know, it`s important to bring a definition of that word to the judge`s attention, you know, if possible. And now it`s with a quick internet search. Certainly, State, Department of Motor Vehicles v. Junge makes it clear that if a case depends on a definition, Urban Dictionary itself is not an acceptable source. In its own terms and conditions, the Dictionary Forum clearly states its limitations, stating that the company «does not control and cannot control all content posted by third parties on the Website and does not guarantee the accuracy, integrity or quality of such content.»  KAUFMAN: Well, that`s if you have a case of sexual assault or harassment, for example, where the terms are all disputed. So I say you sexually harassed me and your name was X, Y, and Z. If X, Y, and Z aren`t clearly sexual harassment terms, I think you`d have a case where you couldn`t just use Urban Dictionary for everyone. But linguists like Denis aren`t too worried.
The premise of Urban Dictionary is that no matter how funny or whimsical it is, a term doesn`t have to be popular to be worth recording. In Denis` opinion, it is enough that it is understood by at least two people. He says that «it`s probably not entirely idiosyncratic. It`s probably not limited to that one person, but it could just be that person and two or three friends. But the important thing is that these few people – maybe two people – still form a linguistic community. LASTOWKA: Not really. I mean, it`s a question of what an individual means in a particular context. And I think Urban Dictionary is a pretty reliable way to find out what people think a particular word means. And there are some concerns about that, but it seems to be a pretty solid source of evidence.
In November 2009, Principal Thomas Murray banned the word meep at Danvers High School, located outside Boston (Netter, 2009). Parents and students received emails and automated phone calls warning them that saying or posting the word meep would result in a ban. Students had ignored calls from teachers and administrators to stop, leading to the school-wide ban. This story contains entertaining elements: an overzealous director who forwarded emails with Meep to the police; references to the Meeping Muppet, cut; Students wearing «MEEP FREE» T-shirts; and Meepings coordinated by Facebook. Mike Spiewak, a student at Danvers High School, commented on meep, «I think it`s unfair that they banned a word that isn`t even a real word» (Raz, 2009). According to Melanie Crane, another student from Danvers, meep means «nothing special» (Netter, 2009). As a result, its ambiguity allows for countless definitions. The authoritative source for defining the term throughout coverage of the Danvers incident was Urbandictionary.com, an open-source, online dictionary of slang and subculture terminology. For those of you who have never beeped, the main entry of the Urban Dictionary (UD) considers it «the most versatile word in the English language that can mean whatever you want.» UD lists 93 other definitions for the most popular word. KAUFMAN: They`re changing. In fact, I remember seeing a leak in one of the court cases. I wonder if the gentleman who just called was responsible.
But they change very quickly, but that`s also the advantage of Urban Dictionary. I think, you know, if words change as fast as they do now, and all the dictionary experts I`ve talked to say that language is evolving at this very fast rate, you might need Urban Dictionary more than ever. The stakes are also rising. Urban Dictionary is used to determine the acceptance of vanity plate names in some U.S. states. More serious is the continuing tradition of using the dictionary in legal affairs where the interpretation of a single word can have serious consequences. The Urban Dictionary`s definition, for example, was addressed in a sexual harassment lawsuit, and Jack`s importance was discussed in a financial compensation case. While the speed of Urban Dictionary can be useful in a legal framework, some lexicologists believe it is risky to rely on an outsourced dictionary. KAUFMAN: I think what – Greg pointed out to me when I interviewed him for my story, which is usually when you have one – before, if you had a real problem with the word, it would have been an expensive problem to solve. Essentially, they should have hired an expert to conduct a street investigation into the meaning of a word. Essentially, Urban Dictionary does it for you. JIM: Hey, hello.
Nice to be with you today. You know, the point I wanted to make, even though I`m not a lawyer, I said — had some context in the — in the courtrooms. But for me, the perspective that I bring as a special education teacher that works in communication and behavior is that if you put it in context, the smart lawyer in that situation will ask the person using slang to get into some kind of context, let them explain what they mean by that word. Because that will be the jargon that a jury becomes — take note and it gives them an opportunity to explain what they mean because there are a lot of definitions, but that`s what that person means when they use that word. Contextualization is the way to go. The best rated definition is: «A pejorative term used by American Indians primarily during Western exhibitions and by white Democrats during the Civil War» (sic). However, these poorly corrected definitions also highlight the fact that citing Urban Dictionary as linguistic evidence has its limitations. Brunetti himself undertook this investigation by pointing out that only one definition of «fuct» in the urban dictionary linked it to a vulgar insult, while two others defined the word as its brand name.